Inter Milan to face Bayern in rerun of 2010 final
Defending champion Inter Milan will face Bayern Munich in a rerun of last season's Champions League final after Friday's first knockout round draw threw up several familiar pairings.
European club football's top tournament has often been criticized for its predictable entry list and repetitive fixtures, but the rematches scheduled for the next round should interest neutral supporters.
As well as pitching together the sides that met in the final in Madrid just seven months ago, the draw handed Barcelona a meeting with Arsenal, and put Real Madrid up against Lyon.
Barcelona beat Arsenal in the 2006 final and, with four goals by Lionel Messi, outclassed the London club 6-3 on aggregate in last season's quarterfinals.
Lyon knocked Madrid out of the first knockout round last season.
''We've faced Bayern Munich lots of times in the past,'' Inter president Massimo Moratti said. ''It's almost a traditional fixture. But it's too early to analyze it now. The games won't be played for another couple of months.''
Neither Inter nor Bayern, who also met in the 2006-07 group stage, has so far replicated last season's good form.
Diego Milito scored twice at the Bernabeu in May to give Inter a 2-0 win over Bayern that made it European champion for the first time since 1965, but Inter is seventh in the Italian league standings and only advanced as runner-up from its Champions League group.
Bayern topped a relatively weak group but is languishing a distant sixth place in Germany.
''It's an interesting draw,'' Moratti said. ''They'll see it as a chance to get their revenge. A lot will depend on what shape they and we are in at that stage of the season, psychologically and physically.
Bayern's woeful form in the Bundesliga, where it is 24 points behind leader Borussia Dortmund after just 16 games, means its best chance of qualifying for next year's Champions League may be to win this season's final at Wembley.
''We're looking forward to these games,'' Bayern vice chairman Karl Hopfner said. ''I think we've got to make up for the past and I think the players are up for it.''
Arsenal is similarly looking for payback against a familiar opponent.
Barcelona rallied to beat the 10-man Gunners 2-1 to hoist the 2006 title and last season destroyed England's best passing side with a hugely dominant display. Barcelona had the best of a 2-2 draw at Emirates Stadium before Messi's four goals propelled the three-time champions to a 4-1 home win.
''My reaction is very simple: difficult but possible,'' Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. ''You could have said that Schalke, a team with less history in the Champions League, would have been easier maybe. But the advantage is that we will be on our toes and we'll be ready.''
Barcelona leads the Spanish league it won last season, having won its last eight matches by a combined score of 26-0.
''We will have to see in what conditions we arrive to the two games, because how the teams are playing now is not important,'' Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said.
Last year's win for Lyon was the French side's third straight at home against Madrid in the Champions League, each time without conceding a goal.
''It will be very hard because Real will want to make up for last season,'' Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said. ''It's a kind of revenge. It really will be special to knock them out two years in a row.''
Seven-time European champion AC Milan will play Tottenham, which won its group ahead of Inter in its first season in the Champions League.
''I would have taken AC Milan before the draw,'' Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. ''They are leading the league in Italy but it has the makings of a great game over two legs. I'm looking forward to it.''
Manchester United was drawn against Marseille, and Chelsea will meet FC Copenhagen.
''They're maybe the biggest club in Europe along with Real Madrid, historically speaking,'' Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier said of United. ''But I think the English will suit Marseille better than Barcelona's short passing game would.
''We'll need a strong defense against the famous Wayne Rooney and the others who play with him. It will be a good atmosphere at the Velodrome and I think we have our chances.''
The first Danish club to make it out of the group stage, Copenhagen isn't expected to get past a team that reached the 2008 final and won last season's English Premier League.
''We must try to create a small sensation at home so tension is maintained,'' FC Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken said. ''But it will be difficult. Chelsea is probably among the three, four favorites to win it all.''
Shakhtar Donetsk, which won the second-tier UEFA Cup in 2009, is up against Roma, while Valencia plays Schalke.
The first leg matches are scheduled for Feb. 15, with the return games the following month.