Arsenal drawn with Barca again

NYON - European champions Inter Milan will play Bayern Munich in a repeat of last season's final following the draw for the first knockout round of the Champions League on Friday.

Inter beat Bayern 2-0 in Madrid with two goals from Diego Milito to clinch their first European crown for 45 years but struggled in this season's group stage, qualifying for the last 16 as a runner-up. Bayern topped their group with five wins out of six.

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Club president Massimo Moratti told reporters in Abu Dhabi: "We have met Bayern many times, it's an historic battle, but it's too soon to judge.

"Last season we got through past English and Spanish teams, and this time we start with Bayern, we'll see what form we'll be in."

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, club CEO, said: "Inter are an extremely difficult draw, the most difficult I would have to say.

"But it will be an attractive duel. Maybe we could take revenge for the defeat in May."

The other stand-out tie paired this season's favourites Barcelona with Arsenal - the team they beat 6-3 on aggregate in last season's quarter-finals.

Barcelona, who also beat Arsenal in the 2006 final, drew 2-2 in London last season before Lionel Messi demolished the Premier Leaguer side, scoring all four goals in Barca's 4-1 second leg win at the Nou Camp.

Sports director Andoni Zubizarreta told Gol television: "It will be a very level tie with Arsenal with no clear favourite.

"Cesc (Fabregas) hasn't returned to play at the Nou Camp since he left so it is an opportunity for him. We know him well but he will be defending the colours of Arsenal as captain."

Arsenal Club Secretary David Miles said: "Barcelona are probably the form team in Europe at the moment.

"We are looking forward to two good games, two good teams playing attacking football.

"The last couple of times we played them they've got the better of us so hopefully we can turn the tables."

Real Madrid, the nine-times winners, face Olympique Lyon again after losing to the French side at the same stage last season.

Lyon President Jean-Michel Aulas told Eurosport: "Our previous encounters with Real Madrid have often allowed Lyon to get through. But Real are a different team this year. It is a difficult draw in a different context.

"It will be a tactical match because Real Madrid are playing at home in the second leg.

"I think Lyon will be stronger in February and I am convinced we will play our part in the Champions League."

Tottenham Hotspur will return to the San Siro to face AC Milan, after finishing ahead of Inter in the group phase.

Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri told Milan's TV channel: "Tottenham are definitely a good side but among the possible opponents they were one of those who on paper looked less tricky."

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said: "It's a great draw, it's an exciting game to play and to look forward to.

"They have a fantastic record, they're leading the league in Italy so it's a great challenge for us.

"They have some fantastic players but I said before I wouldn't mind playing them because you want to play against the best players."

In the other ties, AS Roma will play Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine, Valencia will play Schalke 04, Olympique Marseille face Manchester United and FC Copenhagen meet Chelsea.

Chelsea Chief Executive Ron Gourlay said: "We'll be very careful, Copenhagen are a very good side but I think we'll be happy with this one.

"If we play to our ability we are a match for any club."

Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken added: "It's great for the fans but from my point of view Chelsea, along with Manchester United and Real Madrid, were the teams we did not want."

Brian Laudrup, who played for both clubs, said: "What Copenhagen can hope for is that Chelsea's current crisis in form continues. If it does, there could be a change of coach and other turmoil which could be to Copenhagen's advantage.

First legs will be played on February 15 and 16 and February 22 and 23 with the return legs on March 8 and 9 and March 15 and 16. The final will be at Wembley Stadium on May 28.

ANOTHER REPEAT

Real Madrid are now coached by Jose Mourinho, the man who led Inter to the title last season, and they will relish a chance to atone for their mistakes of last term.

Last season Lyon won 1-0 in France before going through with a 1-1 draw in Madrid.

"We still have last year's elimination fresh in the memory," Real sporting director Miguel Pardeza told Gol Televison.

"It's curious to have them two years in succession. It should help us to learn and to make sure we don't make the same mistakes this time."

Tottenham, joint highest scorers in the group stage along with Arsenal with 18 goals, came from 4-0 down with a Gareth Bale hat-trick before losing 4-3 at the San Siro in October.

Darren Eales, Tottenham's director of football administration, said the club would take heart from that comeback when they meet the seven-times winners AC Milan.

"That second half and going into the home game gave the players the belief that they could compete with teams like Inter Milan and they showed it at White Hart Lane (where Spurs won 3-1)" Eales told Sky Sports News.

"As we've gone on in the competition we've grown in confidence and I think that's what the lads will take into the AC Milan game."

Draw in full

Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk AC Milan v Tottenham Hotspur Valencia v Schalke Inter Milan v Bayern Munich Lyon v Real Madrid Arsenal v Barcelona Marseille v Manchester United Copenhagen v Chelsea


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