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Manchester United worried, but it's Inter Milan that faces Champions League ouster

March 14, 2011 |  4:23 pm

Manchester United, fresh off a 2-0 F.A. Cup quarterfinal victory over Arsenal and still chasing three trophies this season, plays host to Olympique Marseille, with the French team causing Manchester Coach Alex Ferguson some worries.

"I think Marseille will sit back and try to hit us on the counterattack," he said. "There are different ways of playing counterattack in modern football, but I don't know much about [Marseille Coach] Didier Deschamps as a tactician; it's the first time I've come up against him as a coach."

Marseille and Manchester United played to a 0-0 tie in the first leg of the round-of-16 series, and the English Premier League leader's failure to score an away goal might come back to haunt it if Marseille is able to grab a goal at Old Trafford. Away goals are the tiebreaker.

Ferguson said the fans could make a difference Tuesday night.

"They're a good team but with these European games at Old Trafford on a midweek night there's a terrific atmosphere. Hopefully that will help us," he said.

It will take a lot more than fan support to help defending champion Inter Milan. The Italian club appears to be on the edge of a precipice as it travels to Germany to play Bayern Munich.

The German team played some scintillating soccer while upsetting Inter, 1-0, in Milan in the first leg, and needs only a tie at home to join Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine in the quarterfinals. Still, Bayern's lame-duck Dutch coach, Louis van Gaal, was warned his players of the danger posed by Inter Milan, which defeated Bayern in the 2010 Champions League final.

"We have to be very careful," Van Gaal said. "My players have to be very focused, especially during opening minutes, so they can size up Inter's tactics and respond."

As for Inter Milan, it has come down to a simple equation: win or be eliminated.

"I do not think either team has an advantage tomorrow and we have already got a clear strategy," said Inter's Brazilian coach, Leonardo. "I won't and I can't promise anything, but we will play with a lot of confidence, passion and desire. We know we have to be in our best shape tomorrow, but I can see a lot of motivation. For my players it is a privilege to play games like this. These are games which have the feel of a final."

On Wednesday, the final two round-of-16 matches feature Chelsea at home against Copenhagen and Real Madrid at home against Olympic Lyon.

--Grahame L. Jones