Champions League Draw: All English Final still on the cards

Having survived the last-16 curse which has claimed three holders in the last four years tournament favourites Barcelona have managed to make it to the last eight where they will face Arsenal in a repeat of the 2006 final.

There was also a case of déjà vu for Manchester United who will face Bayern Munich in a repeat of that classic 1999 final where United scored two late goals to secure an historic treble at the Camp Nou. Having trashed AC Milan in the previous round Sir Alex Ferguson and co will be confident in overcoming the German side.

If they do overcome Bayern they will face the winners of the all-French clash between Lyon and Bordeaux. This means there will be a French side in the last four for the first time since Monaco in 2004.

Because United and Arsenal have been separated there is still a chance of an all English final but the chances of that could be quite slim given that Barcelona are still favourites to become the first side to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.

Arsenal are at home to the Spanish champions in the first leg, while United will be at home for the second leg against Bayern. Of course, Arsene Wenger will have wanted to avoid Barcelona in the draw but it does set up some mouth-watering match ups.

Cesc Fabregas will relish playing against his former club, with whom he is often linked with a return; also Thierry Henry will face the club where he became a cult hero. Of the men who started in Wenger’s line-up that night in Paris only Campbell, Emmanuel Eboué and Cesc Fábregas continue to be on Arsenal’s books.

The winner of the clash between Arsenal and Barcelona will face either Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan – who knocked out Chelsea earlier this week – or CSKA Moscow in the semi-finals. No doubt the Italian side will be favourites to progress in that one.

CSKA Moscow are making their first appearance in the last eight but will be no pushovers as Manchester United know when they came to Old Trafford and got a 3-3 draw, they also knocked out Spanish side Sevilla in the last round.

The Quarter-finals is made up of eight teams for six different countries, which is the most varied group to reach this stage since the 1998-99 season. Once again English teams are at the forefront of the latter stages having two teams in the last eight along with France, while Spain, Italy, German and Russia have one team.

If I was to go out and make a bold prediction, then Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Bordeaux should be in the semi-finals. That would make it Barcelona vs. Inter round two and Bayern Munich vs. Bordeaux. Who says that the Champions League is predictable?


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