United to face Inter in Champions League
Friday 19 December 2008
European champions Manchester United and rivals Liverpool were handed mouth-watering ties against Inter Milan and Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 today.
The draw pits United against Jose Mourinho's Italian giants Inter while Liverpool will take on nine-times winners Real, a club repeatedly linked with Reds boss Rafael Benitez.
Chelsea also face an intriguing reunion with former manager Claudio Ranieri after being paired with Juventus while Arsenal take on Roma.
Mourinho enjoyed success at Old Trafford during his time as Porto boss and then developed a strong rivalry with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson after moving to Chelsea.
There had been a possibility that United could draw Spanish champions Real, with whom tensions are high due to their pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo, but Liverpool landed that prize.
It will be Liverpool's second visit to the Spanish capital this season after playing Atletico Madrid in the group stages.
Ranieri guided Chelsea to the semi-finals of the competition in 2004 but made way for Mourinho at Stamford Bridge later that year.
Manchester United's communications director Phil Townsend said the draw was a good one for the Old Trafford club and offered the chance to gain revenge on Mourinho, five years on from their loss against his Porto side at the same stage of the competition.
"It's a very exciting draw. We've only met Inter once before in the Champions League and we got through then, and maybe it's a good omen because it was in 1999 and we ended up winning the tournament," he said.
"We'll be trying to put one over on Jose this time and get the result the fans want and the club wants."
Chelsea secretary David Barnard was pleased with the draw as the Blues look to go one better than last year's runners-up finish.
Barnard told Sky Sports News: "Any team at this stage of the competition is obviously quality but it could have been a lot worse, maybe Barcelona.
"It obviously brings back Claudio Ranieri to the Bridge and I am sure Claudio will get a good reception from the Chelsea supporters.
"In Claudio's last season we actually reached the semi-finals and the Champions League means a lot to him and Chelsea."
The draw is as follows
Inter Milan vs. Manchester United
Arsenal vs. AS Roma
Villarreal vs. Panathinaikos
Lyon vs. Barcelona
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool
Sporting Lisbon vs. Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid vs. FC Porto
Chelsea vs. Juventus
Today in the Premier League, Everton face Manchester United, and Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium. A victory for Jose Mourinho's side, and they could win the Premier League title as soon as Wednesday with a win over Leicester.
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