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Saracens are expecting a red hot battle, says Barritt


Bring it on: Saracens skipper Brad Barritt is relishing fierce rivalry
Bring it on: Saracens skipper Brad Barritt is relishing fierce rivalry

By Andrew Baldock

Saracens captain Brad Barritt has predicted a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final with "added spice" against Glasgow at Allianz Park today.

The teams have already met twice in feisty pool stage games this season, with Ulsterman Mark McCall's Saracens winning both on an unbeaten march through their qualifying group.

Barritt and co are bidding to reach a top-flight European semi-final for the seventh time, but Glasgow would enter uncharted territory if they triumph.

"It's quite surreal knowing we will be playing them in a home quarter-final, having played them twice already," Barritt said.

"We knew those were two very tough fixtures and ones we had to work very hard for.

"I think there will be some added spice - there will be some feelings carried over from the last two games - but we've prepared well and we are really excited about the opportunity to play in a home quarter-final.

"I think the added spice between English and Scottish teams is always going to carry a little bit of a flavour and taste for the encounter.

"With every rivalry when you play a club there is always going to be an added spice. It's part of the game we really enjoy and look forward to."

Saracens are bolstered by England forward Maro Itoje making his first appearance since suffering a knee injury during the Six Nations opener against Ireland on February 2.

Itoje packs down at blindside flanker alongside back-row colleagues Jackson Wray and Billy Vunipola, with fly-half Owen Farrell and lock George Kruis returning after being rested for last weekend's Gallagher Premiership victory over Harlequins.

Scotland star Stuart Hogg, meanwhile, returns for Glasgow after suffering a shoulder injury while on Six Nations duty last month. It will be the full-back's first appearance for seven weeks.

Assessing Glasgow's challenge against Saracens, Warriors hooker Fraser Brown said: "It is so difficult against them.

"You have to play for 80 minutes, and if you give them two or three opportunities or fade away in the last 15 minutes, they are such a quality side with great players that they can really put you to the sword.

"So we know that we have to play well for 80 minutes, we know that we have to be accurate and keep hold of the ball."

Edinburgh have sold almost 35,000 tickets for their quarter-final appointment with Munster at Murrayfield today.

It is Edinburgh's first top-flight European quarter-final for seven years, and head coach Richard Cockerill said: "We are going to go full-blown into the battle and take them on.

"We are going to enjoy the contest and see if we're good enough to do it. If we get it right, we will beat them.

"We've got to front up in these big games.

"We will be well prepared and have a lot of belief in what we do."

The last-eight fixtures are completed tomorrow with an all-French encounter in Paris when Racing 92 - beaten finalists last season - tackle Toulouse.

Racing 92 will be boosted by the return of fly-half Finn Russell. The Scotland international has not played since his key role during his side's Six Nations comeback against England at Twickenham, the game ending in a draw.

Toulouse welcome back France pair Yoann Huget and Romain Ntamack in the backs.

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