Barca faces Arsenal in quarterfinals

BY foxsports • March 19, 2010

Arsenal will seek to avenge its 2006 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona when the teams meet again in the quarterfinals of the competition.

The north London team was drawn to face the heavily favored defending champions from Spain on Friday, with the winner potentially facing Inter Milan.

The draw also set up a quarterfinal between Manchester United and Bayern Munich, which is a repeat of the 1999 final that United won with two late goals.

The other quarterfinal features an all-French matchup between Lyon and Bordeaux.

UEFA also made the semifinal draw, with the winner of Arsenal-Barcelona to face either Inter Milan or CSKA Moscow.

The quarterfinal games will be played March 30-31, with the return legs on April 6-7. The semifinals are April 20-21 and 27-28.

Barcelona beat Stuttgart 4-0 on Wednesday on the back of two goals by the brilliant Lionel Messi. Arsenal, which has never won European club football's most prestigious competition, outplayed FC Porto 5-0 last week.

Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2006 final at the Stade de France. Thierry Henry played for the Gunners in that game, but is now with Barcelona. The quarterfinal matchup will feature the Frenchman's return to the north London club where he spent eight seasons, scoring a club-record 174 league goals.

"You respect what they have done but competition is what you do tomorrow," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of Barcelona. But he admitted his side had a tough route to the title with the possibility of facing Barcelona, Inter Milan and Manchester United in consecutive matches.

"We can only take one step at a time. The route is not easy, that I concede. But the best way to be successful in the quarterfinal is to get into this competition in good condition and with a strong belief. The strong belief happens if we do well in the (Premier League) championship."

Inter beat Chelsea home and away and looked impressive under coach Jose Mourinho, who won the title with FC Porto in 2004.

Retired former Inter player Luis Figo described CSKA Moscow as a "typical Russian team" that features "good quality, international players."

"They have quality and they showed it this year in the Champions League."

Figo said Inter was hoping to avoid Manchester United or Barcelona. On drawing CSKA, he said: "I'm not happy, I'm not sad."

Winner of 17 Italian league titles, Inter has won the European title twice but not since 1965. Its last appearance in the final was in 1972.

The May 22 final in Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium could also be a repeat of last season's in Rome when Barcelona beat Man United 2-0.

United, which won the title in 2008 for its third triumph in the competition, beat seven-time champion AC Milan home and away in the last 16 round with striker Wayne Rooney scoring twice in each game.

"They (United) and Barcelona are the favorites for the title," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal. "They've been playing very good football recently. It will be difficult to beat them. But it's always nice to play in England, the pitch is always good, the fans are enthusiastic,"

Lyon and Bordeaux lamented being drawn to face each other but said it at least guaranteed a place for a French club in the last four.

"It's very special," said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, whose team knocked nine-time champion Real Madrid out in the previous round. "It was difficult to imagine such an all-French duel in the Champions League. But this means there will be a French club in the semifinals."

After the draw, British bookmakers William Hill made Barcelona the 2-1 favorite to become the first team since AC Milan in 1990 to win the title twice in a row. No team has won consecutive titles since it was renamed and reformatted as the Champions League in 1993.

Hills made Man United 3-1 second favorite followed by Inter Milan at 10-3 and Arsenal at 9-1.


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