German clubs shine in the UEFA Cup

Cakewalk: Manchester City manager Mark Hughes. © Unknown.
Cakewalk: Manchester City manager Mark Hughes. © Unknown.

German clubs SV Hamburg and Werder Bremen host the two remaining sides from Europe's top leagues, Manchester City and Udinese, respectively, when the Uefa Cup quarterfinals get under way today.

German clubs SV Hamburg and Werder Bremen host the two remaining sides from Europe's top leagues, Manchester City and Udinese, respectively, when the Uefa Cup quarterfinals get under way today.

And if the fierce Bundesliga rivals prevail in the series which has its return legs next week, they would meet in the semifinals to complete a four-game frenzy in 19 days between them.

Bremen visit Hamburg for a German cup semifinal on April 22 and host them in the league on May 10. The Uefa Cup semis are scheduled for April 30 and May 7.

Italy's Udinese and England's Manchester City are the sole survivors from Europe's three top leagues as Spain is no longer represented.

The other two quarterfinals are French-Ukrainian duels with Shakhtar Donetsk hosting Olympique Marseille and Paris St Germain up against Dynamo Kiev.

Neither a French nor a Ukrainian team has ever won the Uefa Cup, which makes success even more desirable for the four clubs en route to the May 20 final in Istanbul.

There is added spice to the match as City features two ex-Hamburg players in Belgian defender Vincent Kompany and Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong. The latter is ineligible, though, as he played for Hamburg in the UefaCup.

City manager Mark Hughes has named the meeting "the plum tie" of the quarterfinals and hopes his team built around Brazil star Robinho can continue to do well on the continent.

Hamburg, meanwhile, are tied on points with Bundesliga leaders VfL Wolfsburg but are struggling with injuries as a gruelling campaign for a possible title treble takes its toll. A draw could suit the Germans as they have won all five matches away from home in the Uefa Cup. - Sapa-DPA

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