x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Barcelona face tricky Arsenal in Champions League

Champions League holders Barcelona were handed a quarter-final tie with Arsenal in today's draw in Nyon.

The Champions League trophy, right, with the draw for the quarter-finals of the competition.
The Champions League trophy, right, with the draw for the quarter-finals of the competition.

Champions League holders Barcelona were handed a quarter-final tie with Arsenal in today's draw in Nyon. The Catalan giants, who beat Manchester United 2-0 in last year's final, beat the Gunners 2-1 in the 2006 showpiece. There will definitely be a French side in the last four after Lyon and Bordeaux were paired together. Bayern Munich will face Manchester United, who beat them in the 1999 final with two last-gasp goals, while Inter Milan will be up against Russians CSKA Moscow. Barcelona, who hammered Stuttgart 5-1 on aggregate in the last round, are a much changed team to the one which beat Arsene Wenger's side four years ago. Their manager that night, Frank Rijkaard, and two goalscorers, Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti, are no longer at the club, while Lionel Messi did not feature in the final. Sir Alex Ferguson's United, who swept AC Milan aside in the last round, have plenty of history with Bayern. They trailed 1-0 for most of their 1999 final to Mario Basler's free-kick, but late goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earned them a stunning victory. The German side won the tournament two years later, though, beating Valencia on penalties, having beaten United in the last eight. Bordeaux are currently two points ahead of Lyon, the conquerors of Real Madrid, in the Ligue 1 table and won 1-0 at Lyon back in December. Arsenal, Lyon, Bayern and Inter will play the first legs at home. The first legs will be played on March 30 or 31, with the return leg on April 6 or 7. The winner of the Bayern-Manchester United tie will face either Lyon or Bordeaux in the last four. Inter or CSKA will take on Arsenal or Barcelona. Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud admits it is somewhat disappointing to be facing a fellow French team but is delighted it will ensure a Ligue 1 outfit is in the semi-finals. "I'm a little bit disappointed," he told Eurosport. "We talked a lot about it before, about the possibility of this. "But we have to take what we take and we just have to get on with it and deal with it. "It's going to be a great night and means there will be a French team in the semi-finals and that's something for French football to celebrate. "If both clubs play to their potential it's going to be a great night not just for our fans but also for football fans around the world." Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge labelled the tie a "tough but attractive draw", although he admits United will be expected to go through to the last four. "Manchester are a team who are ranked right at the top," he said on his club's website. "We will have to push ourselves to our limits and possibly even beyond to go through. "Manchester are the favourites, but that is where the attraction lies: to try to beat a favourite." Inter will be favourites to see off CSKA, arguably the weakest team left in the competition. Former midfielder Luis Figo is pleased the Serie A side avoided United and Barca, but insists the Nerazzurri will not be over-confident heading into the tie. "I'm not happy, not sad," he told Eurosport. "I'm happy to be in the quarter-finals. "You cannot choose, they're all good teams with quality, but theoretically you don't want to play against Manchester or Barcelona. "I think CSKA are a typical Russian team with good quality international players. "They have quality and they've showed that this year in the Champions League. So we have to pay attention and do two great games." Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, whose team triumphed over Real Madrid in the last round, is looking forward to another magical European night. "It will be a very special night for us," he told Eurosport. "I think we've played in the final of the Intertoto against another French team but that doesn't really count. "This is the Champions League, an entirely different night. We did think it could happen, we were hoping it wouldn't. "Now we have to hope we qualify but we are going to see a French team in the semi-finals and let's hope we see one in the final."

* PA Sport