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Ferguson the winner in CL draw

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Phil McNulty | 11:24 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry captured the Champions League mood perfectly with the words: "It's that time of the year again."

It is the time of the year when England's big four dominate the draw for the later stages of Europe's elite tournament - and the time of the year when that draw pairs Liverpool and Chelsea.

The giants of Anfield and Stamford Bridge will meet again in the last eight - after three meetings in the semi-finals since 2005, plus an encounter in the group phase.

If the draw brought looks of resignation from the Liverpool and Chelsea camps in Nyon, as well as offering up a hazardous encounter with Villarreal for Arsenal, an air of satisfaction may just have descended on Old Trafford after a troubled week.

As Sir Alex Ferguson digests that 4-1 beating at home to Liverpool, he may reflect that a meeting with their 2004 conquerors FC Porto was about as good as it was going to get for the current holders.

And while a semi-final meeting with Arsenal, if they dispose of the dangerous Villarreal, is a potential blockbuster, Ferguson will be happy that any meeting down the line with either Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona or Bayern Munich will be in the final.

Let's start with the meeting of Liverpool and Chelsea. All manner of psychological and footballing forces will be at play between now and the first leg at Anfield.

Liverpool got the better of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea to reach the final in 2005 and 2007 - but revenge was sweet for Avram Grant and his side at the same stage last season.

And while Liverpool did a Premier League double over a Chelsea side struggling under the leadership of Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Londoners have been revitalised by the arrival of the shrewdest of coaches, Guus Hiddink.

Chelsea will feel their time has come to over-turn Liverpool's recent supremacy, but is there a more confident side on this particular stage than the men from Anfield?

Liverpool's emphatic victories against Real Madrid and Manchester United has led to confidence coursing through the veins of every player at Anfield - backed up by positive messages from inside the camp.

In Fernando Torres they have arguably the world's finest striker, plus a midfield man in Steven Gerrard who is worthy of a similar accolade.

Cristiano Ronaldo

They will fear no-one, but one twist of the draw that is inevitably in Chelsea's favour is that the second leg is at Stamford Bridge as opposed to Anfield.

It was a formula that worked for Chelsea in last season's semi-final, while every club in the competition knows the perils of a second leg trip to Anfield.

The meeting of minds between Benitez and Hiddink will add an extra strand of intrigue to the tie, as two of the European game's renowned strategists attempt to navigate their way into the last four.

And once this tie is settled, there is no kind draw awaiting the winner. Barcelona or Bayern Munich will provide a formidable barrier to the final.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has always exuded confidence in the ability of his side, and he will feel it is well within their compass to beat Villarreal.

Jens Lehmann's late penalty save from Juan Roman Riquelme stamped Arsenal's passport into the 2006 final, but Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini has always felt they were unlucky not to beat the Gunners.

Make no mistake Villarreal will pose a threat, with former Arsenal star Robert Pires an obvious danger and superb playmakers in Santi Cazorla and Ariel Ibagaza, but they can lack a cutting edge.

Arsenal have Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott and Eduardo ready to bolster their ranks. They will be a powerful addition to Wenger's armoury as he insists his side can beat anyone left in the tournament.

This, in my opinion, makes Arsenal favourites to reach the last four - where the smart money will be on them meeting Manchester United in an all-Premier League game.

United's meeting with Porto will inevitably revive memories of 2004, when Francisco Costinha's late equaliser sent Ferguson's men out and Jose Mourinho dancing down the Old Trafford touchline.

This time it will surely be different, even though Porto beat a gifted Atletico Madrid side in the last 16 and have a potent striker in Lisandro Lopez.

Uefa president Michel Platini may not like it, but there is now the very real prospect of three English sides in the last four again this season.

Manchester United, Arsenal - plus a tie between Chelsea and Liverpool that is too close to call with any measure of confidence.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    'Ferguson the winner in CL draw'

    Sounds like you're making it out as some sort of personal acheivement.

  • Comment number 2.

    man utd final all the way!

    perhaps it ll be the replay of 99 final or last yr semi against barce...yeah

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Chelsea again? there is something going on here, it has the potential to be a great game but with less silly mind games in the build up, I expect there to be an all English final which is good, Man U couldn't have picked a better draw but the gunners could shock them, all the foreign clubs are just there to make up the numbers Liverpool, Man U final, LFC to win the cup.

  • Comment number 6.

    That's what they call a draw, eh?
    Liverpool v Chelsea - again, for the 5th consecutive season these two teams are paired together at some stage in the CL, incredible.
    ManUtd with the easiest route ever to the final - but UEFA will be happy to get their dream final now between ManUtd and Barcelona.

  • Comment number 7.

  • Comment number 8.

    You would have to fancy a ManUtd v Arsenal semi, but the other side of the draw is impossible to call. Chelsea were too much for Liverpool last season, and with Eissen back they have effectively just signed a £25m player. I fancy Chelsea to get stronger now, and Liverpool are too full of themselves that they have forgotten about their own frailities. ManUtd on the other hand thanks to Liverpool have been all too reminded of theirs.

    Bayern have a great team, and I worry about Barca's defending. They have been destroying teams going forward, but other than Toure, their midfield is lightweight, and Pique and Marquez are not formidable.

    If I had to put money on it I'd say ManUtd v Arsenal - Chelsea v Bayern

  • Comment number 9.

    Even though United couldn't have picked a better draw (aside from being at home first in quarters and potentially the semis)

    none of the games are a foregone conclusion. United V Arsenal would be a tricky semi final. as would United V Villareal .... United would surely have to find a goal from somewhere.

    Liverpool V Chelsea and Barcelona V Bayern..

    Take your pick really. Could be any one of those with none looking like outstanding favourites to progress.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well, how about this senario: Porto, Villarreal, Barca, and Chelsea win through to the semi's, followed by Chelsea get a decent thrashing. For the final English pubs are empty with just a breeze whistling between the seats.
    Just a few years ago it was the spanish and italians getting to the latter rounds with the english nowhere to be seen, and no one was getting carried away with the greatness of those leagues then. Its a phase and it'll change, in a few years the Italians will start winning, then the spanish then the english again then someone else. But one thing is for sure and the point of all this dribble, is that the French will always be rubish! :p

  • Comment number 11.

    #1 - no you're just being paranoid. THe word "draw" would indicate a random event. Fergie is the winner as he got what looks like the easiest tie.

  • Comment number 12.

    Arsenal could be the surprise package of this draw. Just starting to play well, players coming back from injury. If they get past Villareal they are capable of beating any of the other english sides.

    Man U get the best draw but none of these are easy games, any team can win the tournament. Porto in 04 and Liverpool in 05 were never favourites at the last 8 stage.

  • Comment number 13.

    Re: #4 - Just to balance things out, I'm more than happy with short punchy paragraphs. Tell me what I need to know succintly - end of. Does make you wonder why people continue to read when they always complain....

    ...anyway, the draw. Boring (I'm a Liverpool fan) or maybe it's just me. There's not one tie that captures the imagination, which is disappointing considering where we are in the competition.

    Chelsea and Liverpool will not be happy - not because of fear, but because of the 'oh great, you again' feeling.

  • Comment number 14.

    so that's 3 straight home draws followed by the easiest draw (no offence to Derby County fans) in the semi final of the Carling Cup
    the easiest draw (Everton) in the FA Cup semi final
    and now the easiest draw in both Quarter Final and Semi Final of the Champions League

    remarkable !

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    oh good another blog and yet another focused on liverpool and the top 4. that's 10/10 in the last month all on the same 4 clubs. that's not predictable, repetitive or boring whatsoever.

  • Comment number 17.

    This make me felling that MAN UNITED has already win the CL

  • Comment number 18.

    All those words can be summarized thus:

    Each team will fancy their chances, Fergie more than most.

  • Comment number 19.

    Four "English" teams out of the eight quarter finalists - yet out of all of the names in this extensive blog - managers, players, etc - only two were English. Surely, for the sake of make-believe authenticity, you could have fitted in Terry, Lampard and... well, one or two others, I suppose.

    A "Champions League", but only Manchester United are English champions. By definition, the other three aren't. But they are rich, with TV pulling power.

    The "Great Big Piles of Money" League, more like.

    Never mind. Ronaldo and Messi on opposite sides in the final will make decent viewing - albeit to what end I can't imagine.

  • Comment number 20.

    I keep hearing 'Pool fans talk about how they're the best team in Europe and I have read various articles from the "experts" about how Benitez is a Champions League mastermind - if all this is true, then why the hell are the fans all so upset about drawing Chelsea and united getting an "easy draw"? If 'Pool are the best team in Europe, then why would there be anything to worry about?

  • Comment number 21.

    No 11 totally agree,

    Good Blog Phil, Bayern vs Barca tie of the round, main cause we have all seen the Chelsea Liverpool match before. Utd now are strong favourites cause of the draw, though in saying that if the odds are good at the bookies my money mey go on an Asernal cup double. Chelsea to brust Liverpools buble. Arsenal to show they are getting back to their best against Villareal. Barca to squezze bay Bayern and Utd to cruise past Porto.

  • Comment number 22.

    why not blind draw at uefa, eventhough seems qua layout fine; balls in the pot with names. ManU on paper easier route, so will the best teams come in the final?- for the quarterfinals it seems there could be a better method to avoid strongest teams match each other. like the co-efficient of this season games in CL, and pair the top 4 with bottom 4.
    Since on paper arguably Barca, Munich and Liverpool and ManU best teams. But in halve finals this scenario will not come about, some say thats the game of the rules or luck like taking penalties. Which by the way is not luck, but a skill, and mental state.

  • Comment number 23.

    I understand the feelings of those who believe the Chelsea v Liverpool saga is getting a little repetitive, but there is too much at stake for it to ever be boring.

    Liverpool's confidence will be surging, but one poster made a very valid point about the return of Michael Essien being the equivalent of signing a £25m footballer. He is an outstanding player and athlete.

    I strongly fancy Manchester United and Arsenal to win their quarter-finals and meet in the last four. Chelsea v Liverpool and Barcelona v Bayern are too close to call.

    I know Barcelona look the better bet on paper, but Bayern have been traditionally strong against Spanish opposition.

  • Comment number 24.

    As a United fan - well I'd have been happy to have faced Porto in the last sixteen. Facing them in quarter finals. Couldn't have asked for more! Can easilly see us in the final again! :) :)

  • Comment number 25.

    Good article Phil, well put together.

    I fancy a Liverpool v Man Utd final.

  • Comment number 26.

    oh and i almost forgot

    Club World Championship courtesy of beating some nomark bunch from Ecuador who can only win at altitude.

    If United win a quintuple this year it will be an absolute travesty for football.

  • Comment number 27.

    It seems like I spoke to soon about the return of Theo Walcott to Arsenal's ranks after injury. He has suffered a knee injury in training and could be out for several weeks - a setback for Arsenal and England.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well I am reasonably happy. Would have liked to play Chelsea in the semi and then Man Utd in the final with Barcelona or any of the others in this round but as Stevie G said yesterday if you want to be the best you have to be able to beat all the teams. Whatever has happened in the league this season between liverpool and Chelsea is not important. They denied us the final last year that everyone from the north and pretty much the rest of the world wanted to see, us against man utd and this next match it is time for revenge. I am sure Rafa will have learnt the message from last year's semi that we have to go for the victory in extra time if that is what it comes to. Ideally we will have a 2 goal advantage after the Anfield leg and if we don't score in the home leg it will be a bit harder at the Bridge.

    I expect that Bayern will beat Barcelona as they won't be able to cope with their physicality and pace and Jurgen seems to have been following how the English teams have been getting the better of the Spanish teams over the last few seasons. Should be a very good knock out stage. All I have to do now is go and get some earmuffs so I don't have to listen to the guff spouted by Platini and Blatter when 3 of our teams are in the semis.

  • Comment number 29.

    The more I think about it, the more I regret the draw not resulting in the four English "champions" avoiding each other, and then going through to the semi-finals.

    That way, the farce would be complete. The same four sides who would be playing to win the Premier League (assuming that the Villa resurgence continues to splutter) would, at the same time, be playing to win the Champions League.

    So who would be "champions", and of what, if two separate winners emerged?

    Wonderful.

  • Comment number 30.

    Utd v Barca final...just as most neutrals wanted! Mr McNulty has Liverpool hyped beyond belief. Mediocrity for 4 months and after a couple of good wins they are suddenly feared by everyone. Rubbish. Gerrard and Torres can't sustain that level of performance....never have.

    Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Barca in the semi's.

  • Comment number 31.

    It still seems to me like Chelsea, even under Hiddink, is a side that lacks tactical flexibility. Their wings are in shambles, depending on pushing defenders up. Their attacking threat goes down the center. Liverpool is more than equipped to deal with it - 4-2-3-1, Mascherano and Alonso will cause all manner of havoc for Chelsea's attack, while your choice of Riera, Kuyt, and Babel will present enough pressure to keep the defenders from coming up. I don't think you've got an easy choice in who has the best attack between Gerrard/Torres and Anelka/Drogba, and while Chelsea's defense are probably superior, I'd pick Reina over Cech as a goalie, doubly so in a match that might go to penalties.

    I've gotta go with a slight but distinct Liverpool edge over two legs.

  • Comment number 32.

    Great draw for United, however I suspect Arsene Wenger will be the happiest manager looking at the overall route to the final. Villareal have won only once in their last five Champions League matches and while they possess quality players Arsenal should me too much for them especially given Arsenal have home advantage in the second leg. Once through they will again have that advantage in the semi-final.

    Obviously when people look at the way Bayern destroyed Sporting Lisbon it would seem obvious that United will easily progress. However over the past seasons United have genrally made a meal out of their encounters with Portugese teams. Porto for their part have knocked out an Athletico side only a couple of points behind Villareal in the league and beat Arsenal in the group stage. Nevertheless you would have to put United down as firm favourate's to progress as long as Ferguson prevent's any complacency creeping in.

    On the other side of the draw despite their display in the last round it's hard to imagine Bayern knocking Barca out especially without Klose. If there is one glimmer of hope for Munchen it will be Barca's dismal defensive record of late.

  • Comment number 33.

    You need luck to win the quintuple or whatever it is called and you can't say the draw is anything but very favourable for united. Arsenal are the least threatning of the English right now 4 and nobody wanted Barca, Liverpool or particulary Munich, considering the astonishing 12-1 hammering they doled out last round.
    I'm a Chelsea man but I bet if you were to list who you wanted it would look something like:
    Villareal
    Porto
    Arsenal
    Chelsea
    Bayern
    Barca
    Man U
    Liverpool

  • Comment number 34.

    Phil

    It seems we have a vast difference in opinion here again.. As a man utd fan and a piece of advice for the gunners. Though we couldn't have asked for a better draw because it could have been worse but I won't be tto overwhelmed with the draw neither cos I think our crsytal ball still looks cloudy.

    Porto and Villareal aren't walkover teams, Arsenal won the later in the 2006 semis only by shear luck and the less commonest porto side knocked us out in 2004 bearing in mind they have won Arsenal earlier in the group stage this year. Complacency is a deadly virus as this was proven in old trafford last weekend and I wouldn't want to witness such anytime soon.............

  • Comment number 35.

    And now one of the two, Walcott, won't play!

    Quick - rewrite this blog, and say something about Rooney or Ferdinand, or... sorry, running out of names, now.

  • Comment number 36.

    To TommyOnion...you seem to have quite a bee in your bonnet about Manchester United.

    If United win the quintuple it will not be a travesty, it will be because they have deserved to.

    And I am sure you would say exactly the same if your own team achieved such an historic feat.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think the FA should help us tell UEFA that chelsea and liverpool have seen enough of themselves in the UCL and its no longer fun its getting boring.

  • Comment number 38.

    i predict chelsea will beat liverpool.
    everybody seems carried away by liverpool's two big big wins againse real madrid and manutd. however if one looks closely to their current forms, chelsea is the better side. they remain unbeaten under the new manager, dorgba re-discover his form, the return of essien.......while for liverpool, apart from the two big wins, their form are a bit doggy and inconsistent. they lost at riverside, and give their leading position to manutd and chelsea (don't forget they beat chelsea 2:0 not long ago but still manage to give up their second place). Well one may say liverpool are different in europe, but let us remember last year it was chelsea kick liverpool out in CL, by avram grant. Can Hiddink do a better job? i think so

  • Comment number 39.

    Already long ago,from when we sold our vote to no man,the people have abducted our duties, for the people who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office,legions everything,now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things..... bread and circuses

  • Comment number 40.

    "Liverpool's confidence will be surging, but one poster made a very valid point about the return of Michael Essien being the equivalent of signing a £25m footballer. He is an outstanding player and athlete."

    Phil, I'd go further and say that Essien is the reason behind Chelsea's recent resurgence, rather than Hiddink. Of course he's a great manager but I bet if Scolari has been watching for the last few weeks he'll be thinking he might still be manager there if he'd had Essien to call on all season. As a Liverpool fan I'm gutted he's fit again in time for us to play them in the CL (although I still think we'll win!).

    Also, I wonder what the Premier League table would look like if Essien and Torres had been fit all season, possible it would be a lot tighter at the top, shame we'll never know...

  • Comment number 41.

    Phil - If Brighton won the quintuple there would be serious questions about match-fixing, bribery and corruption at all levels of the game !!!!

    Seriously though - this isn't even the best Man Utd team in the last 10 years let alone the best team ever, which is surely what they'd be declared if they took 5 trophies. Hell, Ferguson will probably declare them that if they get beaten every match 4-1 between now and the end of May anyway!

    It'd be terrible for the game if they won the lot. Here's to Everton, Porto and either Chelsea or Liverpool bursting their bubbles.

  • Comment number 42.

    Phil - you missed out the implications of this draw for the Premier division. The two legs of the QF are going to take a lot out of Chelsea and Liverpool. Given they both have virtually no margin for error to be able to challenge Man Utd, this draw is very bad news for them. Also, if Man Utd get a few more points lead as a result of Chelsea or Liverpool dropping some, they will then be able to rest more players for the later league games - which improves their chances in the Cups.

    This draw is a HUGE advantage for Man Utd - I think the chances of them doing the quintuple just went from about 25% to 50%.

    And I agree with you - if they do achieve it, it will be deserved.

  • Comment number 43.

    Phil, as a United fan I have to disagree with your notion that we're satisfied with the draw. Admittedly, on paper, it isn't the most difficult, but after the weekend I was desperately wishing, hoping, praying to draw Liverpool! And annoyingly enough, we did in the rehearsal runthrough!!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    For tommyonion
    Why is it a travesty if the best team in England, Europe and the World win a quintuple this year? Would it be better if a lesser team did it?
    Are you being a just a bit paranoid saying that United have been given the easier draw in every competition?
    Are you trying to say that every football association is making sure that the people drawing the balls out of the pot are told to make sure United get the easier teams!? I'd love to know how they do that?
    Perhaps you could enlighten me on how this is done?
    I would hardly say United have had the easiest path to any trophy this season.
    If everton is an easy draw how come they knocked out Liverpool?
    I suppose next you will be saying United have had the easiest teams in the Premier league to play against! How far can you go with your paranoia?
    for poster no16. mtrenners wrote:
    "oh good another blog and yet another focused on liverpool and the top 4"
    I dont know if you noticed this but its a blog about the champions league quarter final draw! I'm not sure how you could fit Hull or Porstmouth etc in this blog!


  • Comment number 45.

    As a Man Utd fan, I admit that we have, just like in all the other cup competitions this year, got the easiest draw out of all the top teams in europe.

    But I seriously think most people are getting carried away by believing that we will get to the final easily. If we manage to beat porto, we will most likely play Arsenal, who have always given us a tough game through the years (Apart from the 6-1 match!!!) and have also beaten us (sometimes comfortably) in past seasons and even as recently as last november.

    Also, Villarreal are a good team and we could also play them, which would be the preffered match if we beat porto, but they are also a good team and in the last 4 matches we have had with them, both teams failed to score, so it could be tight.

    Overall, this would have been the preffered draw all man utd fans would have been looking for, but it is just not that clear cut. As for the other half of the draw, it is one of the toughest I have ever seen and any team from barca, liverpool, chelsea and bayern could get through to the final, so it is the most interesting half of the draw for sure!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Fergusan's luck is phenomenal. The draw puts ManU in the final against whoever rises from the bottom half, where it is no telling who will make it. If one were to seed the teams on any criteria, four of the top five are in the bottom half. So their chances are about even.

  • Comment number 47.

    #36 Phil - I guess if United do the Quintuple this season it'll really be the other teams losing it rather than them winning it. Some years the quintuple is just there for you on a plate...

    That apart, as a United fan I'm pretty happy with the draw, although we will need to repect Porto and a back to full strength Arsenal in the semi are arguably as good as Liverpool or Chelsea.

    I'm also hopeful that the Liverpool/Chelsea clash will derail at least one of their premiership challenges...



  • Comment number 48.

    Liverpool to Beat Man U in the final i reckon!!

  • Comment number 49.

    Zootmac - I see you have a comment under moderation so forgive me if i've jumped the gun but you say:

    "A "Champions League", but only Manchester United are English champions. By definition, the other three aren't. But they are rich, with TV pulling power."

    okay but in the words of the highlander "there can be only one", you can't have 4 league champions in any league in existence anywhere in the world. if you want a strictly champions league competition we could have a champions league with the top club from each european league in but that would severely limit the number of games, number of teams, players taking part, tv coverage, money paid out to competitors whether they are an english league team or not, and we'd have to change the name to the European Cup or something, beacuse there wouldn't be enough teams to create the league format! I think they tried this before for many years sucessfully, but now football is the way it is, global business with global pulling power, i think the current format works quite well!

    I'm sensing that you have an air of disgust that 4 EPL teams are in the last eight again, i'm sorry but they didn't break any existing rules to get there, they just beat everyone else!

    Thats football for ya!

  • Comment number 50.

    Not happy to see Liverpool vs Chelsea again, Kop vs Barca...now that would have been good, maybe in the next round though depending on whether Bayern can keep up the momentum after decimating Sporting in the last round. Obviously Barca will be a totally different game, but im still going for a United vs Liverpool Final.

  • Comment number 51.

    The second thread today regarding this and its exactly the same, Scousers whinging about how everything goes everybody else's way blah blah blah. Everyone could go on for days about there perceived bad luck, poor refereeing/linesman, unlucky draw, injuries etc etc

    Its just luck, some you win, some you lose get a grip on reality.

    For the record i can see Chelsea getting to the final and Arsenal v United being a cracking 2 games finishing 4-3 but no idea which way.

  • Comment number 52.

    Fantastic draw for United. We can settle our scores with Porto, and if it came down to a showdown with Arsenal, we can deal with them too. The draw would've been perfect if we could've played the return legs at home but I think United have matured greatly in Europe and we won't have a better chance to reach another European Cup final.

    And of course, Liverpool v Chelsea is a great draw for people who have sleeping trouble...

  • Comment number 53.

    TommyOnion,
    Would you ever catch yourself on, your acting as if the draws are fixed, when they obviously are not! Just because Man Utd are dominating everything at the minute you guys are finding any excuse to talk absolute nonsense!!

  • Comment number 54.

    Arsenal to shock the world by winning the CL. Take note of this post. You'll make reference to it some day.

  • Comment number 55.

    Liverpool fan here, I have absolutely no clue as to whether we can beat chelsea, drogbas come alive again, essien is back and carvalho, if i remember right will be fit again. And Hiddink has got them grinding out wins again, real nip/tuck stuff, but I think whoever wins that game will go on to the final. Bayern and Barcelona just arent strong enough, Barcelona in particular have had a lot of plaudits but defensively are suspect, nullify Messi (easier said then done I know) and their most direct threat is gone.

    Could be same final as last year, or could be a Liverpool - United final, if the latter ends up being true then god help us all, two arch rival clubs with huge fanbases who will take thousands and thousands of fans to Rome, a city not noted particularly well for its security ^o)

  • Comment number 56.

    To all those complaining about the draw....it's a draw, it's pot luck. By its very nature someone has to be drawn against the worst team and at this stage top sides will be drawn against each other.

    Man U had arguably the hardest draw of the english teams in the last round despite winning their group. Chelsea finish runners up in their group and get and easier draw against Juventus.

    In getting to the semi-finals of the FA Cup Chelsea have played no premiership sides, whereas United have had to play 3. (sorry to use these teams as the example again)...It's swings and roundabouts

  • Comment number 57.

    Is it just me, or is this blog ever so slightly pointless? It doesn't actually say anything! It just seems to be hanging on the coat-tails of the usual hype surrounding the Champions League. The draw is what it is - all this nonsense about sub-plots in the Man Utd/Porto and Liverpool/Chelsea ties is just the media trying to extract extra and painfully predictable copy in the laborious build-up to the games. Don't get me wrong - inside I'll be waiting desperately for the quarter-finals to come round; but this article, like nearly everything else we will be subjected to in the lead up to the matches, offers no insight whatsoever.

  • Comment number 58.

    You might eat your own words if Porto beat ManU. anyone who thinks porto and villareal as minnows surely doesn't have any idea about the new stars brewing up in the continent...

  • Comment number 59.

    Phil presuming Arsenal and Man Utd both make it to the semis, it should be a brilliant match. Although I am an Arsenal fan I'd expect Man Utd to win, but surely they can't get to the final twice on two years?! Who would you fancy?

  • Comment number 60.

    Fantastic draw (I'm a United fan by the way) and how great to see Liverpool and Chelsea lock horns again. I think Arsene Wenger will be chuffed to have drawn Villareal, I can't see any problems with that tie. The Barca v Bayern tie could be very close. Both teams have an amazing array of attacking talent so I think defense will be the key. Barca seem to have the weakest defense so you would have to fancy Bayern to score at the Nou Camp and go through on away goals.

    However, it would be great to see a Champions League Final with Ronaldo up against Messi.

  • Comment number 61.

    Philsandlifer............Your not wrong about Chelsea lacking quality wingers, but if ever there was a case of "pot calling kettle black" then you have just given it.

  • Comment number 62.

    should be an interesting QFs, my pick of the matches is defo Barce vs Bayern, too truly excellent attacking sides. On the note that 3 of the English sides aren't Champions and therefore devaluing the name "Champions" neither are Barce (Real Madrid are), Villareal aren't (Sporting who Bayern THRASHED are). Porto are champions, although the Portuguese League is very weak (and initially they werer kicked out, so maybe shouldn't be even in the comp?), and Bayern are (and they had the "benefit" of not having the CL last year to distract them). So enough about these English clubs devaluing the competition, other nation's champions don't do as well as their 2/3 teams do (look at Inter, truly Appaling record over the past 5 years, coming second to Pana in the groups this year for instance, AC/Juve/Roma always getting further)

  • Comment number 63.

    I had hoped that we would get drawn against continental opponents. I suppose the carrot (in the form of a potential match up v Barca or Bayern) has been dangled.

    I really am getting sick of Utd always getting the easy draw. I am not crying conspiracy but they always seem to get the duffers in the group stage and usually get at least two easy teams in the knockout. That said their record in Europe (by comparison with their domestic record) is average.

  • Comment number 64.

    If there is a Liverpool v Man United final, we'll have a few casualties in Rome.

  • Comment number 65.

    Yes, it will be an absolute travesty that United would have eclipsed every achievement Liverpool have ever had. A team with some of the most talented players around, winning. How awful.

    #35 Zootmak: "Quick - rewrite this blog, and say something about Rooney or Ferdinand, or... sorry, running out of names, now."

    You're kidding of course. English first team players in those sides, albeit including some injured, for the English teams include: Terry, Lampard, Cole, J Cole, Ferdinand, Brown, Carrick, Hargreaves, Scholes, Rooney, Gerrard, Carragher, Walcott... maybe Foster, now he's back from injury. Could also arguably include O'Shea, Evans and Giggs as domestic players. That doesn't seem so bad.

    Like it even matters where the players that represent the clubs come from anyway.

  • Comment number 66.

    With the four English clubs getting to the quarter finals again this is not so much a Champions League but more like the English League Cup i.e. the top teams get byes in the earlier rounds and then play home and away in the latter stages to get to the final.

    Oh for the golden days when this was a proper cup knock out completion where only the true Champions played but then the big European teams wouldn't get the money to pay their millionaire stars their outrageous wages.

    Can't wait for the cricket season to start!

  • Comment number 67.

    It's absolutely perfect that we (Porto) are being labelled as a modest team the big guns wanted to be drawn against. Despite knocking man u out in 2004 I was in fact expecting this level of arrogance from you english. We'll get a draw at olf trafford and finish united off at home and I'll come back here to laugh and ridicule united's supposed luck in this draw. Come on Porto!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    Zootmac, you are a world class whinger mate. Your boring old argument left me comatoz (anagram, geddit?). All the major teams left in the CL have a very international flavour to their squads, get over it.

  • Comment number 69.

    I tend to agree with # 8, but apart from the conspiracy theorist's worries all ties are going to be difficult and at this stage, one slip up defensively is usually curtains.Also, injuries will play a part and Chelsea and Arsenal will have some players back soon.
    First leg matches will be crucial and I fancy United to keep a clean sheet and have 2 goals in the bank.
    The smiles, woopin and hollerin at Liverpool will have faded after this draw.!

  • Comment number 70.

    I cant help but start believing some rumours that these draws were preset. I do hope Bayern Munich can do well. Ribery is a great player!

  • Comment number 71.

    Benitez vs Hiddink - 2 of the best managers at setting up teams to win over 2 legs in Europe in my view. Going to be a cracking 2 games. Liverpool to go through and play Barcelona.

  • Comment number 72.

    Man Utd beat Porto
    Arsenal beat Villarreal
    Liverpool beat Chelsea
    Barca beat Bayern

    Arsenal beat Man Utd
    Liverpool beat Barca

    Liverpool 6 times Champions

    Pointless speculation over.

  • Comment number 73.

    FAO Devil-man-25 & myke7t

    i haven't actually claimed any draws are fixed


    talk about paranoia !


    United have however had a huge amount of luck here (and it appears some Man Utd fans here have the good grace to admit it e.g. ironfist007). For their two 'challengers' to their League crown to have been pitted against each other, whilst they get the easiest possible draw - again - is, as i said, remarkable !

  • Comment number 74.

    "Michael Essien being the equivalent of signing a £25m footballer"

    ...and the return of Torres is equally uplifting for Liverpool.

  • Comment number 75.

    Er........Gerrard is not one of the best midfielders in the owrld. In the EPL he is one of the best. I dont think its going to be that easy for man utd. Infact any of the 8 teams has a good chance if they perform on their day. As for the possibility of 3 English teams being in the semi final it would not have been possible without the massive influence of the foreign players.

    If I was a betting man Arsenal,Barcelona,Chelsea will be where the smart money is on. Bayern Munich if they can get past Barcelona are dark horses.

    Anyway lets wait and see..

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    With all this talk of "Destiny" and the fact that Liverpool and Chelsea are facing off... again... has anybody else noticed that should they get through to the final in Rome (where they've already won it twice) Liverpool would be the home side?

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    TommyOnion

    yes, it would be a complete travesty with every single 1 of the draws man united have got this season, including arguably the hardest draw in the last 16 of the champions league (inter milan, in case you conveniently forgot for the sake of your argument) how does that work?

    but, still man united have potentially got both 2nd legs away from home, am i wrong? and portugal is a hard place to go

  • Comment number 80.

    If Man Utd win the quituple it will be a tribute to the best squad they (or I suspect any other club) have assembled - whether it would be the best team (of 11) they have ever assembled would be a subject for a very long night (or several) of debate in the pub. However, the structure of the modern game places unbelievable demands on a team competing on all fronts - and since MU were CL holders it has involved the extra games in the Euro Super Cup and the World Club Championship.
    I can not see how anyone could call winning a clean sweep 'a travesty' or say it was down to getting an easy draw in cup competitions - the nature of a cup is you have to beat whoever you are drawn to meet at any stage, including any other team who thinks they would have been more worthy winners, except of course where they have already been dumped out of the competition! - but that's not luck.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Good article Phil, I can't help but feel United are 3rd favourites for the Champions League, we've got an awful record against the big teams this season, facing Arsenal or Chelsea or anyone, i'm not confident, I hope we get some luck in the draw or we buckle up our ideas!

  • Comment number 83.

    Comment Number 20 -

    As a liverpool fan myself, and also in support of a comment another person made, I am not happy about the draw because it is an 'oh no, not them again' tie. You want your team to pit themselves against all the top teams, not end up playing Chelsea every year!

    From a footballing perspective I am quite happy as, in the Champions League, out of all the times we have played each other (which I know is at least 8 times!) we have only lost to Chelsea once. That was the second leg of last years semi-final, and even that game was 1-1 after 90 minutes, they finished the job after extra time. If it wasn't for Riise rush of blood in the 94th minute of the 1st leg we probably would have reached the final for a 3rd time in 4 years.

    Also you want to play European teams, the whole point of the Competition! Last year we played Arsenal QF, Chelsea SF and would have played Man U in the final had we made it. Its just a little less exciting, though not any less nerve-racking!

  • Comment number 84.

    And whats this about United getting an easy draw - lets not forget that in 99 United had to play Bayern (including a third game) Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus. All (and not arguably) the top teams in Europe at the time, which is more than all the quality put together when the scoursers won the competition four times.

    May I also remind the abu brigage then in 99 we had to play liverpool, chelsea (twice) and arsenal (twice) on way to winning the fa cup too. Neitether the champions league or fac cup draw stopped us winning the treble!

    By that argument lets not count the when liverpool beat the ooh so mighty Bruges hey?!? In my mind we've always had tough or ok draws in the champions league about time we had something more simple.

  • Comment number 85.

    im sorry but since when playing inter is an easy match??? they might not be a force they used to be (overall italian footy isnt) but they are certainly a better team than madrid, roma or juve are. they are leading the schudetto and they play better than madrid do and having mourinho as their manager makes them even stronger.
    i agree porto are the weakest team out of all the 8 teams but its not our fault that we have to play them and i hope fergie is gona respect them as much as he would respect barca or bayern.

  • Comment number 86.

    So what you are saying is this.........a team that just recently lost 4:1 at home, has been drawn against the team that beat them before at this stage of the champions league and therefore they have the easiest draw, because........well because no one has a clue about FC porto therefore they must be krap because Murhino is no longer there! Am I right? What a load of codswallop. I would fear a team from the continent over two legs more than I would Fear Arsenal or Chelsea. Obviously any meeting with Liverpool is hazardous after the result last time out. I still think United will get to the final, but they will meet the German outfit who are out for revenge. Hiddink will mastermind Bennytez no problem. But no one will beat Bayern this year.

  • Comment number 87.

    norapeti @61

    Nah, I don't disagree - Liverpool's strength isn't on the wings either. The thing is, I think Liverpool's wings are A) improving (Riera was a lovely signing), and B, at least have the capacity to keep the defenders from having to come up. Kuyt, love him or hate him (and I'm apathetic) at least works and harries his side of the pitch. And Riera and Babel can both launch a nice run. Given that Chelsea's wingers are defenders, I have to say advantage Liverpool in this area simply because I think Kuyt, Riera, and/or Babel will push deeper than Cole/Boswinga.

    To my mind, your matchup goes like this on paper.

    Wings: Advantage Liverpool
    Essien/Gerrard: Draw. These are equally competent players, and this is a compelling match-up.
    Lampard, Deco, and Ballack/Alonso and Mascherano: Advantage Liverpool. I think their defensive midfield is an unsung hero, and that working a ball through the center is going to be a tough, tough proposition.
    Anelka and Drogba/Liverpool defense: Advantage Chelsea.
    Torres/Chelsea defense: Draw. Chelsea's defense can handle Torres as well as any defense in the world can, but look, you're still talking about Torres.
    Goalkeepers: Advantage Liverpool. Reina in a CL match, every time.

    It comes down to a midfield battle for me, in that case, and I think Liverpool has the better midfield. On paper, at least, Liverpool should squeak through. But it is a deliciously tight game.

  • Comment number 88.

    Indeed, whatever bad things can be said about Manchester United, they've got nine players from the UK who are firmly in their first team, and are very much the exception to the "foreign talent" criticism.

  • Comment number 89.

    As regards the draw:
    Barca v Bayern, I agree tie of the round. Think it'll be very tight, but if Barca can dominate the possession as i suspect they will, they should squeeze through.

    Liverpool v Chelsea, too tough to call, may go to extra time and penalties

    United v Porto, while United are clear favourites, complacency could catch them out.

    Arsenal v Villareal, both sides have shown occassional brilliance this season in their leagues, but more often are inconsistent,so again tough one but Arsenal when all players fit have more fire power.

    Dream final would be Barca v United as the two best teams so far this year, but late surge in form like Liverpool have being demonstrating can take any of the teams all the way. So i expect plenty of twists and turns, could easily be bayern v villareal in the final.

  • Comment number 90.

    I'm of the opinion that you want to be a part of Champions League football for the very reason that you want to test yourself against the best around so i'm glad Liverpool will have to beat two of the best in Europe just to get to the final. On another note whilst the draw looks more favourable for United, for Chelsea and Liverpool not having to do any major amount of travelling for the away legs it may benefit them in the Premier League whereas United will have to travel to Portugal at a key time in the season.

  • Comment number 91.

    The smart money would be on Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Barca for the Semis.

    I've a hunch that only two or three of those will make it.

    Arsenal could do with Utd what they did with Liverpool last year - play them three times in a short period of time. I certainly don't think it's a gimme for Utd to roll over Arsenal, although they will certainly fancy their chances. That's what it will be about: who takes their chances.

    But Villareal are no mugs. They've been in the CL a few times now and, for the Portsmouth of Spain, that's no mean achievement. They've gone for a mix of top club cast-offs and overseas talent and yes, perhaps they've taken advantage of problems at Valencia, but that's what it's about.

    Funnily enough, I'm more worried about Arsenal's team not being up for the Villareal tie than if they got to play Utd. Quite a few show ponies in the Arsenal team, after all. At least the back 5 are steady eddie reliability 98% of the time.....question is: will Walcott be fit?

    Most unfortunate to be injured again just as he was to get a serious run out with the U21s as a prelude to the summer tournament........... locking a knee whilst walking back to the changing rooms aged 20 sounds odd to the uninitiated - maybe it's more common for top sports stars?

  • Comment number 92.

    Rob Smiley.. Don't really get your point tbh.

    Yes Liverpool are the home side if they get to the final.. as are Chelsea, Bayern Munich And Barcelona.........

    I mean if Man Utd get to the final and face Liverpool, Bayern, or Barca, they will get to wear Blue like they did in 68????

    Anyway, I dread Liverpool and Man Utd meeting in Rome, if Platini wants to end the dominance of English clubs, look no further than a trouble filled capital sparked by the notorious Roma fans fuelled by the two bitterest rivals in English football......

  • Comment number 93.

    after that draw it has to be said 08/09 just looks to be man united's season, a very favorable side of the draw, i cant see them not winning the quintuple this season.

    the other side however is where the best football will be played two cracking ties, but whatever happens in those two games, the 2009 winners of the champions league has decided today. trophy is staying in manchester!


  • Comment number 94.

    Where is the wonderful NIKOSBG think he has his tail between his legs after the 1/4 finals hiding in a cave.

  • Comment number 95.

    Any bet for Arsenal Vs FC Porto clash in the semis.

  • Comment number 96.

    For all those people commenting on how Bayern will upset Barca. I'm sorry but you're talking absolute rubbish. Bayern are only a threat when Toni can flick things on to Ribery and then play in Klose to score the goals (joint top scorer).

    However, now Klose is injured, Barca will cruise, as will MU, i think Chelsea at home will scrape through and Villareal to cause an upset.

    Man U for the quintuple!

  • Comment number 97.

    All the speculation is pure hypothesis! What may look good on paper could be totally the opposite on the pitch. Porto played a blinder against Atletico & are full value for their place. Forget that they won on away goals. They scored them to afford that luxury didn't they? Another small fact is that they beat Arsenal in the group stage. As for Villarreal, they won away at Panathanaikos after being a goal down! It can get quite hairy in some of the Greek grounds. So for those thinking Man U & Arsenal are going to have an easy ride,forget it. Liverpool v Chelsea is too close to call and Bayern v Barca for me is a mouthwatering prospect. Let the games begin and may those who play the best footie win.

  • Comment number 98.

    I have said for years, since we were drawn against Notts Forest in the European cup in 1979, I think, that I prefer to play continental opposition, just because its more interesting. You see teams, players and fans that you dont see every week in the prem. The fans get to go abroad, which is always nice. Another trip to Chelsea...I dont care about whether its a draw against one of the favourites, its just not as glamorous. Man Uniteds draw, is a banana skin. They are expected to win easy and they will be ripe for a slip up.
    By the way, why do so many United fans keep going on about Inter Milan being the toughest draw in the last round?? Really, when did they last win the CL, or even make the semis? Barca, Bayern and the other English teams werent a harder draw? Real who have actually had success in the CL, including giving UTD a hiding recently, are though, rubbish...right?

  • Comment number 99.

    why are so many people talking about a dream final between man utd and barcelona? last year their games were complete sleeping pills, especially when united, tactically correct but incredibly boring, only defended for 180 minutes and won because of a lucky strike. basically the way liverpool always play in the CL except for the last madrid game

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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