Real-United, Milan-Barca ties highlight UCL draw
Zurich, Switzerland (Sports Network) - Two pairs of European heavyweights were paired together in Thursday's UEFA Champions League draw.
Of the final 16 teams making it beyond the group stage, Spanish champion Real Madrid has been paired with Manchester United, England's runners-up, while Barcelona drew Italian side AC Milan.
"I think the fans will be very, very happy with this tie," said Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno. "It's a very attractive tie, it will be very thrilling. Manchester United are a great team. And they have a great coach - Sir Alex Ferguson knows how to do it. It's going to be very tough. But we are Real Madrid. We will do our best. I'm sure we're going to rise to the occasion."
The second leg of the tie, slated for March 5, will mark the first time that Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford since making the switch to Real Madrid in 2009. It also gives United manager Sir Alex Ferguson a chance to renew his personal rivalry with Real boss Jose Mourinho.
"Well, it's the tie of the round," Ferguson told the club's official website. "It's a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also for me to meet up with Jose again - I'll need to order some good wine!"
Real Madrid is the most successful club in the history of the Champions League, winning the competition nine times. Manchester United has been victorious three times.
AC Milan and Barcelona have fared extremely well in the competition as well, claiming the title 11 times between them. Milan is the second-most successful club in the tournament with seven titles, while the Catalans, four-time winners, have won the competition three of the last seven years.
Barcelona advanced through to the semifinals at Milan's expense last season, easing past the Italian side with a 3-1 victory at Camp Nou after a scoreless draw at the San Siro.
Bayern Munich, last year's finalist, will do battle with English Side Arsenal in a bid to reach the quarterfinals, while Galatasaray faces Schalke, Celtic meets Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk squares off against Borussia Dortmund, Valencia takes on PSG and FC Porto goes up against Malaga.
The first legs will be played on February 12, 13, 19 and 20 while the second legs will take place on March 5, 6, 12 and 13.
Below is the full draw with group-winners listed second:
Galatasaray - Schalke Celtic - Juventus Arsenal - Bayern Munich Shakhtar Donetsk - Borussia Dortmund AC Milan - Barcelona Real Madrid - Manchester United Valencia - PSG FC Porto - Malaga