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
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice