Laurent Blanc, the coach of Bordeaux, acknowledges that Barcelona are the club every team will be hoping to avoid in today's last- eight Champions League draw. Barca, the champions, are the sole Spanish team left and showed their class with a 4-0 destruction of VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday, giving them a 5-1 win on aggregate.
They will be counting on the skills of Lionel Messi to lead them to the Champions League final at the home of their arch-rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, and thus become the first team to defend the title since the competition's inception in 1993. The Catalans go into today's quarter-final draw in Nyon, Switzerland along with Manchester United, the 2008 winners and last season's runners-up, Arsenal, Inter Milan, Lyon, Bordeaux, CSKA Moscow and Bayern Munich.
France have two teams in the final eight for the first time since 2004 with Bordeaux and Lyon. And Blanc said he, for one, wanted to avoid the Spaniards after his side reached the quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Greek club Olympiakos at home for a 3-1 aggregate victory in midweek. Asked if he was hoping to draw CSKA Moscow, Blanc said: "It would show a lack of respect for Moscow to say that. This team achieved a super match against Sevilla.
"But I'd like to avoid Barcelona because I think they're the bogeyman of this competition even if I saw a superb team on Tuesday evening: Inter Milan." Barca and United, both three-time winners, and Inter Milan, two-time champions, will be the teams to avoid. Joan Laporta, the Barca president, said his side were feeling confident, but taking it one match at a time. "We are on the right path," he said. "We have very difficult opponents ahead of us. We cannot think about the final, on Friday we will know who we will face and we will continue working as we have until now. They will be some hard-fought quarter-finals."
Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan impressed as they beat Chelsea 3-1 over two legs, while Bayern Munich scraped past Fiorentina in the last 16. Lyon complete the line-up after they saw off Real Madrid to deprive Cristiano Ronaldo of the chance to return to Old Trafford. * With agencies