Arsenal draw Reds in UCL quarters

The draw for the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals is made in Nyon.

    The path to Moscow [AFP]
    Arsenal will face Liverpool in the Uefa Champions League quarterfinals, and Manchester United will play AS Roma for the third time in two years.

    Barcelona, one of the title favorites, managed to avoid all four English teams left in the competition in Friday's draw and faces Germany's Schalke while Chelsea takes on Fenerbahce.

    UEFA also made the provisional semifinal draw.

    The winner of Arsenal and Liverpool meets either Fenerbahce or Chelsea. Schalke or Barcelona faces Roma or Manchester United.

    It's the first time that four teams from the same country have made it to the last eight, all hoping to make it to the May 21 final in Moscow.

    "I think it's challenging, interesting as well. It's a good opportunity to be consistent against Liverpool because it's three very important games for us,'' said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger whose team meets Liverpool in the Premier League between the two Champions League matches.

    "It's amazing but not surprising because I have seen that many times.''

    The draw also means that Arsenal now faces last season's losing finalist, having beaten winner AC Milan.

    "We just knocked Milan out and that was a big hurdle and the next one is the (losing) finalist,'' Wenger said.

    Liverpool confidence

    Rafa Benitez' Liverpool ousted the other Milan team, Inter, to reach the last eight.

    "It's not the worst moment for us,'' Benitez said. "We have confidence, playing well, scoring goals, progressing well in the Champions League, beating an Italian team top of their table, one of the best teams in Europe.

    "They (Arsenal) know it will be tough for both. Nobody wanted to play an English team.''

    The Arsenal-Liverpool matchup at least guarantees the Premier League a spot in the semifinals where the winner could then face Chelsea.

    If it's Liverpool-Chelsea they would meet in the tournament for the fourth straight season and take their tally of meetings in all competitions to 23 in four years.

    Liverpool ousted Chelsea in the semifinals in 2005 and '07 and they also met in group action in 2005-06.

    Uefa General Secretary David Taylor, right, and
    Russian former goalkeeper Rinat Dassaev make the
    Arsenal, the only current league leader left in the competition, ousted defending and seven-time champion AC Milan in the previous round.

    Two seasons ago, the Gunners made it to the final only to lose 2-1 to Barcelona.

    Liverpool knocked out Serie A leader and champion Inter Milan, and, despite its shaky form in the Premier League, is a perennial powerhouse in the Champions League under Benitez.

    The Reds hit back from 3-0 at halftime to beat AC Milan on penalties in the 2005 final in Istanbul after a 3-3 draw to win the title for the fifth time.

    Last year, it reached the final again only to lose 2-1 to Milan.

    Roma returns for United

    Manchester United and Roma have also become regular opponents.

    Last season, United beat the Serie A team 7-1 at home to reach the semifinal after a 2-1 loss in Rome. They also met at the group stage this term with United winning 1-0 at home and the two teams drawing 1-1 in Rome.

    "We know them very well but Roma also knows us very well after we played against them so many times, especially the way we beat them in the Champions League last season,'' United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz said.

    "I think we have a good chance and we know that we can beat them. But it's a team that has improved a lot. I saw Roma's game against Real Madrid and it is much better than the team we played some months ago.''

    While Manchester United eliminated French champion Lyon in the previous round, Roma reached the quarterfinals for the second season in a row by ending Real Madrid's hopes of winning the title for a 10th time.

    Chelsea reached the semifinals for the third time in four seasons but is yet to make it to the final.

    What it is all about [AFP]
    It avoided the other three Premier League teams and faces the outsider, Fenerbahce, which ousted two-time UEFA Cup champion Sevilla after a penalty shootout in the previous round.

    "First and foremost, we managed to avoid another English team,'' Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said.

    "It's the first time we've ever played Fenerbahce so there's no history between the two clubs and I think everyone will be looking forward to a good quarterfinal.''

    Schalke to meet Barcelona

    Schalke edged FC Porto on penalties to reach the last eight and now faces one of the championship favorites.

    Barcelona is struggling to stay in touch with Real Madrid in the Spanish league title race, however, trailing by eight points after last weekend's 2-1 loss at home to Villarreal.

    "It's one of the teams that one would choose (to face),'' said Barcelona sporting director Txiki Beguiristain, who was also in Nyon for the draw.

    "But I have to reiterate what we've always said, that the important thing is to play the second leg at home. That motivates us.

    "We have a great responsibility because only the great teams make the quarterfinals.''

    The identities of the two finalists will be known by the end of April.

    The first legs of the quarterfinals are April 1-2 with the return legs April 8-9.

    The first legs of the semifinals are April 22-23 with the returns April 29-30.

    Uefa Cup draw

    Meanwhile, German clubs Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen avoided each other in the Uefa Cup quarterfinal draw.

    Bayern will play Spanish club Getafe and Leverkusen faces Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia.

    There is no chance of an all-German final at the City of Manchester Stadium on May 14, however, because the two could meet in the semifinals.

    In the other quarterfinals, Scottish league leader Rangers plays Sporting Lisbon and Fiorentina takes on PSV Eindhoven.

    The first legs of the quarterfinals are April 3 with return legs on April 10.

    UEFA also made the semifinal draw with Bayern or Getafe facing either Leverkusen or Zenit and Rangers or Sporting meeting Fiorentina or PSV.

    The first legs are April 24 with the returns on May 1.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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