x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Treacherous Champions League draw awaits Milan giants

Chelsea, Arsenal or Real Madrid are possible opponents for Inter, while AC Milan could also face Barcelona.

When he won the Champions League with Porto in 2004, Jose Mourinho did not celebrate with his team, choosing to savour the moment with his family on the bench. He was berated the club president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, for not sharing in the joyous scenes with his players. It was a rare occasion for the "Special One" not to be the centre of attention and he might well regret his actions that heady day in Gelsenkirchen when his team beat Monaco 3-0. Mourinho has rarely strayed from the limelight since, but has yet to repeat that triumph no matter how determined or desperate he has been.

In his three years at Chelsea, they stumbled in the semi-finals, and the same prize became the target when he took over at Inter Milan in 2008, but last season, Manchester United sent them out in the last 16 - just like Liverpool did in the previous campaign. This season, the same fate could befall Mourinho unless today's second-round draw is kind. Having finished behind Barcelona in the group, they could draw United again, Mourinho's former club Chelsea, Arsenal or Real Madrid. Massimo Moratti, the Inter president said: "I hope we have that bit of luck [this season] that was missing against Liverpool and Manchester."

Their city rivals and seven-time European champions will also need good fortune as they face a similar scenario. For AC Milan, though, it could be even more daunting with holders Barcelona possible opponents. Leonardo's team will be strengthened by the loan signing of David Beckham and he wants a match-up against Manchester United, the club where he spent 10 years. Milan's cup pedigree makes them dangerous at this, or any, stage. So too Bayern Munich, the Germans who beat Juventus 4-1 in their final group game to qualify. Striker Mario Gomez said: "We've hit our stride, we're playing really good football, and we're scoring goals."

akhan@thenational.ae