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England's European hopes rest with Chelsea, United
With Madrid, Dortmund all but through, focus is on Chelsea, Man United in Champions League
By STEVE DOUGLAS
Associated Press
2014-03-17 06:42 AM

MANCHESTER, England (AP) -- With Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund all but through to the Champions League quarterfinals, the focus this week is on whether Chelsea and Manchester United can preserve English representation in the competition in what is proving a miserable season in Europe for Premier League clubs.

Chelsea is tied at 1-1 with Galatasaray ahead of their last-16 second leg at Stamford Bridge and United is in deeper trouble, behind 2-0 to Olympiakos after a wretched performance in the first leg in Greece.

Arsenal and Manchester City have already been eliminated from the Champions League and Tottenham, the sole remaining English representative in the Europa League, is also close to the exit after losing 3-1 at home to Benfica in their last-16 first leg.

Madrid has a 6-1 lead over Schalke and Dortmund is ahead 4-2 against Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here is a lookahead to this week's last-16 second legs in the Champions League:

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CHELSEA-GALATASARAY

Didier Drogba is set to be afforded a hero's welcome when he returns to Stamford Bridge with Galatasaray for the first time since leaving Chelsea in 2012, two days after winning them the Champions League in his final match for the club.

"I am quite apprehensive about it," Drogba told UEFA.com.

Whether Chelsea fans will be singing Drogba's name at the end of the second leg remains to be seen.

The Ivory Coast striker, who scored 157 goals in eight years at Chelsea, is the biggest threat to his former team's chances of progression and Jose Mourinho's hopes of becoming the first manager to win the Champions League with three different clubs.

Chelsea will be disappointed not to have brought a lead back to London after dominating the first half in Istanbul but failing to add to Fernando Torres' early goal. On the other hand, the Premier League leaders have lost just twice at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League since 2003 and are big favorites to advance.

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REAL MADRID-SCHALKE

Nobody could blame Real Madrid if it is looking past Schalke to its next game, which is none other than a visit by Barcelona for a "clasico" match that will have huge implications in the Spanish league title race.

Madrid is undefeated in 30 games in all competitions and has a comfortable cushion over Schalke after its 6-1 thrashing in the first leg in Germany. That should allow coach Carlo Ancelotti to rest some of his first-choice players, who looked exhausted in the final stretch of Saturday's lackluster 1-0 win at Malaga when Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 39th goal in 36 games in all competitions this campaign.

"After Schalke, we will have four days to prepare for the clasico," said Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez. "We know its importance and we are anxious for Sunday to arrive."

Besides Iker Casillas returning in goal, Ancelotti could give starts to young forwards Jese Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata and midfielder Francisco "Isco" Alarcon.

While Schalke would like to pay farewell to the competition "with dignity," as defender Benedikt Hoewedes put it, as manager Horst Heldt's main concern is getting through the Madrid match without injury. Schalke is now third in the Bundesliga and wants to lock its grip on a direct slot into next season's Champions League.

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BORUSSIA DORTMUND-ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG

Borussia Dortmund, last season's beaten finalist, can take some solace from a 2-1 home defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday that it usually wins in the Champions League after losing in the Bundesliga.

The last three wins in the Champions League all came after domestic losses, but midfielder Jonas Hofmann says this is not because the players already focus on the European stage.

"It's definitely not so that we are trying to take it easy or that we already thinking ahead," he said.

Coach Juergen Klopp's volatile temper was in evidence again and he was sent off the pitch after a noisy reaction to a referee decision. Klopp already had sat out two Champions League games at the start of the campaign over an argument with the fourth official.

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MANCHESTER UNITED-OLYMPIAKOS

The teams come into the match in very different states of mind.

While Olympiakos celebrated sealing the Greek title on Saturday with five games remaining in the season, United slumped to its most humiliating defeat of an already disappointing season on Sunday, a 3-0 loss to big rival Liverpool that virtually ended its chances of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

United's best chance now of being back in Europe's top competition is winning it this season, but that is unlikely on current form, and especially given the deficit it has from the first leg.

"We have a chance," United midfielder Marouane Fellaini said. "We need the fans to stay behind the team and the club and we will fight to win in the game against Olympiakos."

United was eliminated in the round of 16 last season, against Real Madrid.

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