European draws a mixed bag

Alex Ferguson has described his Manchester United’s Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid as “the tie of the round” – not least because he’ll be able to renew an old rivalry.

European draws a mixed bag

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December 20th, 2012

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Jose Mourinho’s Real side qualified as Group D runners-up; eliminating Man City along the way, and can now look forward to two games against the Premier League leaders and Group H winners. Ferguson himself is looking forward to sharing a bottle of wine with manager Mourinho, and of course to seeing his former teacher’s pet in action.

“It’s a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano [Ronaldo] again and also for me to meet up with Jose…I’ll need to order some good wine!”

Meanwhile, Celtic manager Neil Lennon spoke of the “beauty” of a tie his side have been handed; their reward for escaping the Group of Death being two legs against Juventus.

“Juventus are one of the great traditional European teams,” he remarked. “So in terms of glamour it’s great, in terms of qualification it is going to be very tough.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal has been drawn to play Group F winners Bayern Munich in what will also be a tough game for the Gunners.

The draw for the Europa League was also made today; detractors won’t wonder why more than one round gets drawn at a time – recent stirrings at UEFA have indicated an upcoming merger of the European competitions, with the scrawny younger brother to be absorbed into the elite(ist?) Champions League instead of carrying on as separate entities.

If Liverpool get through two legs of their round-of-32 tie against Zenit St Petersburg, they’ll face Basel or Dnipro, while Tottenham can look forward to games against Inter Milan or Cluj if they knock out Lyon. Newcastle United will face Ukrainian high flyers Metalist Kharkiv with the prospect of a last-16 tie against Russians Anzhi Makhachkala or German side Hannover.

Chelsea will console themselves on their failure to progress in the Champions League with a tie against Sparta Prague, then Ajax or Steaua Bucharest.

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