(photo courtesy of uefa.com)
Wow. There are some really great match-ups that have emerged from today’s draw at UEFA headquarters. I’m going to give a quick rundown and early predictions though I reserve the right to change my mind before kick-off of the this round!
The tie that will likely generate the most press is the Inter Milan – Manchester United clash. It is a return to English soil for former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. Mourinho and Alex Ferguson have always been cordial but there have been tense moments between the two. One was brought on by Mourinho’s celebratory run down the touchline at Old Trafford in March 2004. Jose celebrated Francisco Costinha’s last-minute equaliser as if he had scored it himself. That goal knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League and Porto went on to victory in the final, which elevated Mourinho to the status of being one of the eilte managers in the game.
In another interesting twist, Chelsea will welcome back another one of their former bosses as Claudio Ranieri’s Juventus have been paired with Chelsea. Completing the Anglo-Italian showdown is the clash of two attack-minded sides as Arsenal take on AS Roma.
A thought for poor Lyon who were matched up against the current form team in Europe, Barcelona. It’s going to be a tall mountain to climb for the French champs but it is not impossible.
I will do a more thorough breakdown in the weeks leading up to the next round but for now, here are my early predictions based on current form:
Chelsea v Juventus
Villarreal v Panathinaikos
Sporting Lisbon v Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid v FC Porto
Lyon v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Liverpool
Arsenal v Roma
Inter Milan v Manchester United
Who do you think will advance? Which match-up are you most anticipating?