Becks factor could knock out United

Special tie in store at the Bridge but Platini's desire for 'minnows' to shine remains a pipedream

Michel Platini's desire for greater democratisation at the top end of European club football helped some unfamiliar names into the group stage of this season's Champions' League. Debrecen and Maccabi Haifa made some money without managing any points; Rubin Kazan and Unirea Urziceni will now play in the Europa League (the latter against Liverpool). By the knockout round, however, the effect is less profound: eight nations represented instead of last season's seven, and no one country having as many as four teams through. England has an impressive record to live up to, having had three semi-finalists for each of the past three seasons. Chelsea and Manchester United have been there each time and must once again overcome an Italian challenge, as they did at the same stage last season. Just as well, however, that each leg of this round is now played over two weeks; otherwise the English pair and their fans would have been in Milan on successive nights.

Bayern Munich v Fiorentina

Louis van Gaal has only recently quietened the calls for his head in steering Bayern closer to the top of the Bundesliga but they will fancy their chances against a side they beat at last year's group stage.

Bayern match-winner: Ivica Olic.

Group record: P6 W3 D1 L2 Pts10 (2nd).

Last season: Lost in the quarter-final to Barcelona.

Fiorentina match-winner: Alberto Gilardino.

Group record: P6 W5 D0 L1 Pts15 (1st).

Last season: 3rd in group.

CSKA Moscow v Sevilla

Sevilla were far and away the best team in Rangers' group and if they do not freeze in Moscow in February, will be confident that Luis Fabiano and Frédéric Kanouté can shoot them through.

CSKA match-winner: Milos Krasic.

Group record: P6 W3 D1 L2 Pts10 (2nd).

Last season: Did not qualify.

Sevilla match-winner: Luis Fabiano.

Group record: P6 W4 D1 L1 Pts13 (1st).

Last season: Did not qualify.

Internazionale v Chelsea

A special tie, for which Jose Mourinho will be better prepared than ever. Woe betide Chelsea if that defence allows the Serie A leaders to stay in contention for as long as Barcelona did at the Bridge last season.

Inter match-winner: Samuel Eto'o.

Group record: P6 W2 D3 L1 Pts9 (2nd).

Last season: Lost in the knockout round to Manchester United.

Chelsea match-winner: Didier Drogba.

Group record: P6 W4 D2 L0 Pts14 (1st)

Last season: Lost in the semi-final to Barcelona.

Lyon v Real Madrid

Lyon have gone out at this stage for three successive seasons, Madrid for five, so something has to improve. Having won their last group game 3-1 in France (at Marseille) will help to convince the Spaniards that it will not be them.

Lyon match-winner: Miralem Pjanic.

Group record: P6 W4 D1 L1 Pts13 (2nd).

Last season: Lost in the knockout round to Barcelona.

Real Madrid match-winner: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Group record: P6 W4 D1 L1 Pts13 (1st).

Last season: Lost in the knockout round to Liverpool.

Milan v Manchester United

Suddenly finding some form, Milan will be far more confident than a couple of months ago about repeating their victories over United in 2005 and 2007. The Beckham factor will only help.

Milan match-winner: Ronaldinho.

Group record: P6 W2 D3 L1 Pts9 (2nd).

Last season: Did not qualify.

Manchester United match-winner: Wayne Rooney.

Group record: P6 W4 D1 L1 Pts13 (1st).

Last season: Lost in the final to Barcelona.

Olympiakos v Bordeaux

The French champions had the best record of all 32 teams in the group stage and are not to be underestimated. They will want to keep Arsenal target Marouane Chamakh even more after a favourable draw.

Olympiakos match-winner: Dudu.

Group record: P6 W3 D1 L2 Pts10 (2nd).

Last season: Lost in the qualifying round.

Bordeaux match-winner: Marouane Chamakh.

Group record: P6 W5 D1 L0 Pts16 (1st).

Last season: 3rd in group.

Porto v Arsenal

Meeting Porto for the third time in four seasons, Arsenal will draw much comfort from the memory of their 4-0 win at the Emirates last September; less from a feeble 2-0 defeat in the return.

Porto match-winner: Falcao.

Group record: P6 W4 D0 L2 Pts12 (2nd).

Last season: Lost in the quarter-final to Manchester United.

Arsenal match-winner: Andrey Arshavin.

Group record: P6 W4 D1 L1 Pts13 (1st).

Last season: Lost in the semi-final to Manchester United.

Stuttgart v Barcelona

Alexander Hleb, who is on loan to Stuttgart, is pessimistic about the possibility of beating his parent club and it is not difficult to see why. The bookies agree, confirming Barcelona as the clear favourites to retain the trophy.

Stuttgart match-winner: Pavel Pogrebnyak.

Group record: P6 W2 D3 L1 Pts9 (2nd).

Last season: Did not qualify.

Barcelona match-winner: Lionel Messi.

Group record: P6 W3 D2 L1 Pts11 (1st).

Last season: Winners.

Latest odds (courtesy of William Hill): 3-1 Barcelona; 9-2 Chelsea; 5-1 Real Madrid; 15-2 Arsenal; 8-1 Manchester United; 14-1 Internazionale; 16-1 Bayern, Sevilla; 25-1 Bordeaux, Milan; 40-1 Lyon; 50-1 Fiorentina, Porto; 100-1 Olympiakos; 125-1 Stuttgart; 150-1 CSKA.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain