“Deja vu” CL draw offers final rerun among repeats
Nyon: European champions Inter Milan will play Bayern Munich in a repeat of last season’s final after Friday’s draw for the first knockout round of the Champions League produced an unmistakable sense of ‘deja vu’.
Barcelona face equally familiar rivals in Arsenal, who they destroyed in last season’s quarter-finals with a Lionel Messi masterclass, while nine-times champions Real Madrid take on Olympique Lyon, their conquerors in the last 16 last term.
Real’s Jose Mourinho is hoping to become the first coach to win the Champions League with three different clubs, having previously won with Porto and then Inter last season.
His immediate target will be to get Real over what is becoming a serious psychological barrier, with the club having fallen at the last 16 stage in each of the last six seasons.
Inter beat Bayern 2-0 in Madrid in May with two goals from Diego Milito to clinch their first European crown for 45 years but struggled in the group stage this season under Rafa Benitez, qualifying as runners-up in their group.
Friday’s draw also set up three-times European champions Manchester United face Olympique Marseille while FC Copenhagen, the first Danish team to reach this stage, will meet another English side in Chelsea.
AS Roma will play Shakhtar Donetsk, hoping that the worst of the bitter Ukrainian winter will have passed, while Valencia will play Schalke 04 and Tottenham Hotspur face AC Milan, after finishing ahead of Inter in the group phase.
First legs will be played over four dates in February with the returns in the first half of March.
Bayern have been inconsistent in the Bundesliga but have cruised in Europe, topping their group with five wins out of six to leave chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in confident mood.
“It will be an attractive duel,” he told reporters. “Maybe we could take revenge for the defeat in May.”
A similar thought was on the mind of Inter president Massimo Moratti.
“It’s an interesting draw -- for them it will be a sort of revenge,” he told reporters in Abu Dhabi where his faltering side play the Club World Cup final this weekend.
Barcelona were looking forward to another crowd-pleasing fixture against Arsenal, the team they narrowly beat in the 2006 final and overcame handsomely 6-3 on aggregate last season, Messi scoring all four goals in a 4-1 Barca win at the Nou Camp.
“It’s an attractive nice draw but not an easy one,” said Barcelona representative Amador Bernabeu. “I think it will be harder than last season.”
Real are still smarting from last season’s tie against Lyon after losing 1-0 away and being held 1-1 at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid sporting director Miguel Pardeza told Gol Televison: “Last year is still fresh in the memory. It’s curious to have them two years in succession. It should help us learn and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes this time.”
Tottenham Hotspur, joint highest scorers in the group stage along with Arsenal with 18 goals, return to Milan where they lost 4-3 to Inter on their way to winning Group A.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, whose team nearly lost to Young Boys Berne in the qualifying round, said: “It’s a great draw, it’s an exciting game to play and to look forward to.
The teams who won their groups -- Tottenham, Schalke, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Shakhtar, Bayern, Manchester United and Barcelona -- play away in the second leg.
The final will be at Wembley Stadium on May 28.