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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935