Beckham and Milan to play Man Utd in Champs League

AC Milan midfielder David Beckham will get the matchup he wished

for against former club Manchester United in the first knockout

round of the Champions League.

The one-time Old Trafford favorite – who returns to Italy

next month for a second loan spell from the Los Angeles Galaxy –

had said before Friday’s draw he would relish the chance to play

against his old team.

“I think David wanted this match and destiny looked after

him,” Milan director Umberto Gandini said at UEFA headquarters.

United spokesman Phil Townsend said Beckham would get a

fantastic reception on his first return to the club he helped

become European champion in 1999.

“He was a terrific servant for the club and we all hope he

will be playing,” Townsend said.

Milan will host the English champion on Feb. 16, and United –

as a group winner – has home advantage in the second leg on March


Also, Italian champion Inter Milan will face Chelsea in a

meeting of coach Jose Mourinho’s current and former clubs.

Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti said it would be an emotional

game for Mourinho to oppose some of the players with whom he won

two straight Premier League titles in 2005 and ’06.

“Mourinho did a very good job and maintained a very good

relationship with these players. That’s normal,” Ancelotti said.

“It’s difficult because I think that Inter are, at this

moment, the strongest team in Italy. They are at the top of the

table. It’s difficult also for them, though, to play against


The first leg on Feb. 24 will be played at the San Siro,

where Ancelotti spent the past eight years coaching AC Milan, and

won two European titles.

“It is another derby between Mourinho and Ancelotti, but in

Milan and in London,” Inter chief executive Ernesto Paolillo said.

“(Chelsea) is the team I wanted to avoid but this is the destiny.

Mourinho has a lot of motivation to do well.”

Former Inter forward Luis Figo said his fellow Portuguese had

nothing to prove to Chelsea, which stages the return March 16.

“(Mourinho) brought titles to them and I think people there

love him,” Figo said. “It will be an emotional return for him.”

Defending champion FC Barcelona was drawn to play Stuttgart,

which has struggled in the Bundesliga and fired coach Markus Babbel

this month. The Germans host the first leg on Feb. 23 with a March

17 return at the Nou Camp.

“We have to be very smart and not have too much confidence,”

Barcelona director of football Txiki Begiristain said. “They will

have time to prepare for these games against us and we must be


British bookmaker William Hill made Barcelona a 3-1 favorite

to win the trophy, with Chelsea next at 9-2 and Real Madrid at 5-1.

Nine-time champion Madrid – whose Santiago Bernabeu stadium

hosts the final on May 22 – will take on Lyon in France in the Feb.

16 first leg.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said it would be a privilege

to play against Madrid.

“We won’t be the favorites but we will try to show that the

addition of the greatest stars in the world doesn’t make

everything,” Aulas said of Madrid’s €250 million ($360

million) offseason spending that lured Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and

former Lyon forward Karim Benzema.

“No doubt Karim is the happiest,” Real Madrid director Jorge

Valdano said. “We’ll go with utmost seriousness to advance,

something that has eluded us in recent years. But, as a group, we

are getting stronger and believing and we’ll go into it with


Arsenal drew a comparatively low-key matchup against FC

Porto, with the first match in Portugal on Feb. 17 and the return

on March 9.

“(Manchester United and Chelsea) will capture the headlines

and that probably suits us,” Arsenal club secretary David Miles

said. “We will go about our work and do a thorough job.”

Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez was content to draw CSKA Moscow

despite expected subzero temperatures in the Russian capital on

Feb. 24.

“You have to respect every team but I prefer CSKA before

Inter,” Jimenez said. “The biggest handicap could be the playing

surface, which is artificial. It’s a team that has completed its

season and now it has time to prepare for the series.”

In other matchups, it was: Olympiakos vs. Bordeaux; and

four-time winner Bayern Munich vs. Fiorentina.