2010/11 UEFA Champions League Last 16 Fixture

Arsenal face a stiff task in the last 16 of the Champions League after they were today drawn against Spanish champions Barcelona. Barcelona eliminated Arsenal in the quarter-finals last season thanks to a virtuoso display by Lionel Messi and are the bookmakers' favourites again following last month's 5-0 thrashing of Real Madrid.

Tottenham, top scorers in the group stage, also face a stiff test, against AC Milan, in their first experience of the knockout stages of the Champions League. Milan are currently six points clear at the top of Serie A and with plenty of Champions League experience in their ranks. Chelsea were given arguably the easiest draw of the round, up against Danish champions FC Copenhagen, while Manchester United will play Marseille. The other ties see Lyon take on Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, holders Inter, now managed by Rafa Benitez, will face Bayern Munich, Valencia will play Schalke and Roma have to overcome Shakhtar Donetsk.

Spurs have already beaten holders Inter in the group stage and manager Harry Redknapp was quietly confident about being drawn against AC Milan. Redknapp said, "It will be a great game. I would have taken AC Milan before the draw. They are leading the league in Italy but it has the makings of a great game over two legs. I'm looking forward to it." Asked if the experience of the San Siro was an advantage he replied, "No. They are different players. It would be a fantastic occasion. It is not the worst draw for me. A tough draw but it will be a great game. That's what you want. Great games."

He insisted his side, who have 10 matches domestically before Europe resumes, would be concentrating on the Premier League. "It's a way off. We can put it to one side and concentrate on the league for now. It's fantastic for us to be involved in the Champions League. Our first dream was to get into it. To make the group stage was great. Then to win the group in possibly the hardest group of all was fantastic," added Redknapp. Spurs were beaten 4-3 by Inter in Italy but came back from 4-0 down thanks to a brilliant hat-trick by Gareth Bale. They then beat Benitez's side 3-1 at White Hart Lane.

FC Copenhagen are the first Danish side to reach the last 16 of the Champions League but coach Sol Solbakken has acknowledged that his side will be at a severe disadvantage with their tie against Chelsea taking place during the Danish League's winter break, which runs until March. Solbakken told Sky Sports News, "That's the biggest disadvantage. We have played in Europe during this time previously. We played Marseille last year (in the Europa League) and we matched them for 60-70 minutes in both games but then we struggled as we had only played practice games and we struggled to keep up with the tempo," he said.

But Solbakken is not writing off Copenhagen's chances of pulling off a major upset against Carlo Ancelotti's side, particularly if they can perform well with home advantage in the first leg. "We have not been beaten at home in the Champions League and we have played Barcelona and Manchester United "Our best chance is to play out of our skins to keep the second game interesting. Football is football and anything can happen, no-one thought we could come this far. It's very difficult for us but we are looking forward to playing a great team with a great history and it's good to have the first game at home," he added.

Inter are expecting a Bayern backlash when they meet after the Nerazzurri got the better of the German champions in last season's final. Inter president Massimo Moratti said, "It's an interesting draw. For them it will be a way to avenge that defeat. We have faced Bayern many times and it is an historic showdown but it's early days to make a judgement. We will have to wait and see in which conditions physically and psychologically both teams arrive to the games." Inter coach Rafael Benitez added, "I think it will be interesting for the fans and for the stars that experienced the final in Madrid. Bayern Munich are a fantastic team, led by a great coach."

Sir Alex Ferguson insisted Marseille will be "a handful" for Manchester United, especially at their own ground. The United boss told MUTV, "Everyone thought we might get one of the Milan sides because we've faced them quite a few times in the last few years, but we got Marseille in the draw rehearsal and it proved right. Marseille are a handful at their own ground, their fantastic atmosphere and incredible support guarantees that. They've had a good change in fortunes in the last two or three years, after a dry spell, and think it'll be a difficult tie. Didier Deschamps is the coach there, and they've got one of our old players in Gabriel Heinze so it'll be nice to see him." United played Marseille in the 1999/2000 tournament, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford and losing 1-0 in France.

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri claimed that Spurs were "in theory" one of the easier draws for the Italians. Allegri told www.acmilan.com, "Tottenham is probably a very good team but among the possible rivals we could have faced, they are in theory one of the less difficult sides. But all the sides that have made it to the knockout round are nevertheless strong teams."

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay insisted there would be no complacency against Copenhagen. Gourlay said, "There's no easy games at this stage and we'll be very careful. They've played 10 games so far in the Champions league with qualifying, and were second to Barcelona, so they're a very, very good side and well clear in their domestic league."

Gourlay insisted that Chelsea are improving despite their poor recent run of one win in seven games. He told the club's website, "Last week the signs were there that we are picking up again and we've got some of our key players back, which is very important to us and we're looking forward to the game [against Manchester United] on Sunday. Things had been going very well, confidence was high and then we lost three or four of our key players and hit some bad results. This game has probably come at the right time for us. The guys will be looking forward to it, the fans will be looking forward to it and it's a good game to get ourselves back on the rails."

Draw for the last-16 of the Champions League:
  • AS Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk
  • AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur
  • Valencia vs Schalke 04
  • Inter Milan vs Bayern Munich
  • Olympique Lyon vs Real Madrid
  • Arsenal vs Barcelona
  • Olympique Marseille vs Manchester United
  • FC Copenhagen vs Chelsea

The first-leg ties will be played on Febuary 15/16 and 22/23 with the second legs scheduled for March 8/9 and 15/16.

Source: UEFA, Sky Sports, MUTV, AC Milan, Chelsea FC



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UEFA Champions League 2009/10 Review

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