Guardiola keen to avoid French club

MADRID - Barcelona are keen to avoid a French side in the last 16 of the Champions League, coach Pep Guardiola said on Saturday.

Friday's draw for the knockout round could pit the 2009 winners against Ligue 1 clubs Olympique Marseille or Olympique Lyon, and Barca's potential opponents also include holders Inter Milan, Inter's Serie A rivals AS Roma and AC Milan and Premier League side Arsenal.

"I don't want the French in Europe," Guardiola, whose team were knocked out in the semi-finals by Jose Mourinho's Inter last season, was quoted as telling a news conference ahead of Sunday's La Liga game at home to Real Sociedad.

"Marseille are a very strong team - animals, physically speaking - and there is a lot of pressure when you play there. They're very well prepared physically and technically. And we all know about Lyon."

Guardiola led the Catalan club to the title in his first season in charge in 2008/09, part of an unprecedented treble of Champions League and Spanish league and cup.