Arsene Wenger positive about Barcelona tie

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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger promised that Arsenal can prove against Barcelona that they are a better side than the one destroyed by Lionel Messi in the Nou Camp last season.

The Gunners' manager and players had spoken of their desire for a rematch with the much-admired Catalans, and their wish was granted in the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Tottenham also face a stiff test, against AC Milan, in their first experience of the knockout rounds while Chelsea were given arguably the easiest draw of the round against Danish champions FC Copenhagen, and Manchester United will play Marseille.

The other ties see Lyon take on Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, and there will be a repeat of last season's final when Inter Milan, now managed by Rafa Benitez, face Bayern Munich. Meanwhile, Valencia will play Schalke and Roma have to overcome Shakhtar Donetsk.

Arsenal v Barcelona is the outstanding tie of the round, on paper at least, and Wenger said it would be "difficult but possible" for then Gunners.

Wenger said: "Revenge is not on my mind. We want to qualify and we want to knock them out. So is it difficult? Yes. Is it possible? Yes.

"Barcelona are certainly the favourites [for the competition] and a famous team but, on their side, they did not want us either because they know they will get a game.

"I think we are better than last year and we have a good opportunity to show that."

The match will also give Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas the chance to face his former club at the Nou Camp - he missed the away leg last year with a cracked bone in his fibula.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said: "Arsenal are a team who always know what to do with the ball. They view football in a similar way to Barca, and for this I think we will see a great tie, with two teams respectful of the ball."

Spurs were top scorers in the group stage but in Milan they will face a side currently six points clear at the top of Serie A and with plenty of Champions League experience in their ranks.

Harry Redknapp has already seen his team see off holders Inter in their group, and the Tottenham manager said: "They are leading the league in Italy but it has the makings of a great game over two legs."

Asked if the experience of the San Siro was an advantage he replied: "No. They are different players. It will be a fantastic occasion - a tough draw but it will be a great game."

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri claimed that Spurs were one of the easier draws for the Italians, saying: "Tottenham is probably a very good team but among the possible rivals we could have faced, they are in theory one of the less difficult sides."

The tasks ahead of Manchester United and Chelsea appear more straightforward.

Nevertheless Sir Alex Ferguson told MUTV: "Marseille are a handful at their own ground, their fantastic atmosphere and incredible support guarantees that. They've had a good change in fortunes in the last two or three years, after a dry spell, and I think it'll be a difficult tie."

Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti warned that there could not be any complacency against Copenhagen, who are romping away in the Danish league.

He said: "Copenhagen had very good performances in the group. They were able to draw against Barcelona at home and away - I watched them and they played a good game.

"They don't have a lot of experience in the Champions League but obviously we have to pay attention.

"They have a possibility as well to prepare for the game physically because now they have a [winter] break."

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