Arsenal draw Barcelona in Champions League quarter-finals

Posted Saturday, March 20, 2010 by

Arsenal draw Barcelona in Champions League quarter-finals
Barcelona's Lionel Messi is set to face Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Arsène Wenger thinks Arsenal still have a 50-50 chance of reaching the Champions League semi-finals despite being drawn against the team no one wanted – Barcelona – in the quarters.

Barcelona are the holders, the bookmakers' favourites at 7-3, and play the decisive leg at home. "I believe we will not be favourites," admitted Wenger, "but for me it will be a 50-50 game. That's how we have to take it. Of course they are a good side, so are we."

In the other fixtures, Manchester United face Bayern Munich, who have lost just twice in this year's Bundesliga, a fixture Sir Alex Ferguson called "very tough". In an all-French game Lyon face Bordeaux, and José Mourinho's Internazionale play CSKA Moscow, who look the weakest of the remaining sides. The two English sides will meet in the final if they progress.

Arsenal's secretary David Miles admitted they had been landed with the team everyone wanted to avoid. "I'm sure the other clubs felt the same thing," Miles said. "But, having said that, the draw gives us what it gives us, we can only play, and hopefully beat, what's in front of us. We owe Barcelona one and we'll certainly be up for it."

Barcelona's sporting director Txiki Begiristain said: "This will be the most spectacular of all the quarter-finals in terms of football. These are two teams that play open football and the match will be a duel to keep hold of the ball.

"We are two teams who don't shut up shop and play long ball football, and this tie will be nice for the fans. It will be a good spectacle and we'll see if we are a little stronger than them. In any case, the best news is knowing that we will be playing the return leg at home. We are strong at home and we've shown that."

United are second favourites at odds of 3-1 with Ladbrokes, after being handed a repeat of their famous "football, bloody hell" final of 1999, when they scored twice in the dying moments to pickpocket Bayern.

Germany's biggest club currently sit top of the Bundesliga, though they were twice beaten by Bordeaux in the group stages.

Ferguson is wary of an under-rated Bayern side. "The history of playing Bayern in past European ties tells you it's going to be a very difficult tie for us," he said. "It'll be a fantastic atmosphere. They have a great stadium and good pitch and we're up against a good, experienced team."

Bayern chairman's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said his side's draw was "tough but attractive". He explained: "Manchester are a team who are ranked right at the top. We will have to push ourselves to our limits and possibly even beyond to go through. Manchester are the favourites, but that is where the attraction lies: to try to beat a favourite."

There will definitely be a French side in the last four after Lyon and Bordeaux were paired together.

The Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas told Eurosport: "It will be a peculiar tie, but it will mean there will be a French side in the last four for the first time since Monaco [in 2004]."

"I'm a little bit disappointed," said the Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud. "We talked a lot about it before, about the possibility of this. We were chatting with Jean-Michel Aulas before the draw and agreed we did not want to face each other. Our advantage is that we will play at home for the return leg. Their advantage will be that they have much more experience than us at this level."

Inter are favourites against CSKA Moscow, arguably the weakest side left in the competition. But their chief executive Ernesto Paolillo was taking nothing for granted. "This isn't an easy tie," he said. "It would be wrong to underestimate it for two reasons. First CSKA Moscow are at the start of their season. So they are rested and fresher than any other team at the moment. Secondly, they play on a synthetic pitch, which favours less technical teams because players have less control of the ball."

Luís Figo was pleased his old side Inter had avoided United and Barça. "You cannot choose, they're all good teams with quality, but theoretically you don't want to play against Manchester or Barcelona."

Eight teams from six different countries reached the quarter-finals, the most varied group since 1998-99.

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