Home > Sports > Soccer
  print button email button

Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012

News photo
Higher power: Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid were drawn against Manchester United in the Champions League. AFP-JIJI

Madrid draws United in CL

AP

NYON, Switzerland — Real Madrid will face Manchester United in a mouthwatering Champions League last-16 clash that sends Cristiano Ronaldo back to where he made his reputation, and Jose Mourinho to the club many believe he wants to coach one day.

United manager Alex Ferguson called it "the tie of the round," and Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno said it would be "thrilling for everybody."

In another blockbuster pairing in Thursday's draw, Champions League favorite Barcelona and Lionel Messi will play seven-time winner AC Milan.

Arsenal will face Bayern Munich, last season's beaten finalist, and big-spending Paris Saint-Germain was paired with Valencia.

Also, it was: Celtic vs. Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Borussia Dortmund, FC Porto vs. Malaga, and Galatasaray vs. Schalke.

First-leg matches are to be played from Feb. 12-20. Return matches are from March 5-13.

The storied history of nine-time European champion Madrid and three-time winner United would be enough to ensure their matchup top billing, with the first leg in Spain on Feb. 13.

The friendly rivalries of Mourinho and Alex Ferguson in the dugout, and star forwards Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney on the pitch add an extra dimension.

"It's a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also for me to meet up with Jose again," Ferguson said in comments posted on the club's official website.

The managers met in Manchester this month, ahead of Madrid's group match against English champion Manchester City, adding to speculation that Mourinho covets the United job.

"(Mourinho) is a fantastic manager, a fantastic coach and of course this tie is going to be a challenge for all of us," Butragueno said, declining to discuss whether the reportedly unhappy Portuguese will leave Madrid after the season.

It was at Old Trafford where Mourinho truly arrived on the international scene with a flamboyant victory sprint down the touchline as his Porto team eliminated United in the last 16 in 2004, the first of Ronaldo's six seasons in England before joining Madrid.

"It is going to be very special for Cristiano," said Butragueno of the Portugal forward, who is the competition's top scorer with six goals. "He is an extraordinary professional. I am sure he is going to do his best to help us qualify."

Milan had the misfortune to draw Barcelona again after being unable to beat the Catalan side in four matches in last season's group stage and quarterfinals.

"They're not pleased, we're not pleased but this is what the destiny is," Milan director Umberto Gandini said with a smile. "We have to go over the most difficult team on the planet."

Barcelona director Amador Bernabeu said the matchup, which opens in Milan, would be a meeting of two "important, classic teams."

Hours before the draw at UEFA headquarters, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova underwent surgery on his throat and faces weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino opened the ceremony with a message to "a friend of ours. Tito, we are all with you."

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the runaway Bundesliga leader "can be happy" with facing Arsenal, which has struggled this season.

"We can manage this, we're going as favorites there," Rummenigge said. "It's important that we try to get a good result in London, to score a goal and set down a marker."

Shakhtar looked like a team to avoid, and German champion Dortmund — which won a group including Madrid — must go to Ukraine for the first leg on Feb. 13.



Back to Top

About us |  Work for us |  Contact us |  Privacy policy |  Link policy |  Registration FAQ
Advertise in japantimes.co.jp.
This site has been optimized for modern browsers. Please make sure that Javascript is enabled in your browser's preferences.
The Japan Times Ltd. All rights reserved.