Old foes meet again

Holders Manchester United were handed arguably the plum pick of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals draw after being pitted against FC Porto.

For the second year in a row four English teams feature in the last eight with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool also looking for a quick and comparatively easy passage to the semi-finals.

While 2006 finalists Arsenal were drawn to play Spanish side Villarreal, semi-finalists the same year, an all-English quarter-final will see Liverpool take on Chelsea at Anfield before travelling to Stamford Bridge a week later.

"Hopefully it won't make a difference to us that the second leg is away," said Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez. "We have to think about the first game at Anfield with our fans behind us and look to get a positive result to take to Stamford Bridge."

"We need to make sure we don't make a mistake in the first leg like we did in last year's semi-final," Benitez said. "They will be two tough games but we are playing well and clearly we are confident we can win." 

In the other quarter-final 2006 winners Barcelona welcome Bayern Munich to the Nou Camp before playing the second leg in Germany. "Coming face-to-face with the best team in Europe at the moment is a terrific challenge for us all," said Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

"It's something truly out of the ordinary. Barcelona will be exceptionally tough, but anything's possible. We believe in ourselves, and there's no need to be overawed."

Coming face-to-face with the best team in Europe at the moment is a terrific challenge for us all.
Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Sir Alex Ferguson's United went into the draw as the favourites to defend their title, although the bookies will be looking closely at Porto's current form - and past statistics between the teams - before recalculating the odds.

"This is a good draw for us, we've met Porto before and obviously we respect any Portuguese team," said Ferguson. "We have had a huge Portuguese influence in the club firstly with Carlos Queiroz but now with Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, so we understand Portuguese football."

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was coach of Porto in 2004 when the Portuguese giants sent United crashing out at the first knockout stage before going on to win the title. Of the six matches the clubs have played in Europe they have each won two, lost two and drawn two.

Liverpool and Chelsea meanwhile must be wondering whether they are destined to never be apart in the competition. Although they meet at an earlier stage this year, the Premier League rivals have met in the semi-finals in three of the past four campaigns with Liverpool claiming the overall bragging rights.

Chelsea won the passage to last year's final, where they were defeated by United, after a 4-3 aggregate defeat of Liverpool after playing the first leg at Anfield. In 2007 Liverpool prevailed 4-1 from a penalty shoot-out after the two-legged affair, in which Chelsea hosted Liverpool in the first leg, finished in a 1-1 draw.

Two years earlier Liverpool's 1-0 defeat of Chelsea at Anfield, after a scoreless draw in London, was enough to get them through to the 2005 final where they famously beat AC Milan after a penalty shoot-out.

Arsene Wenger will be happy at being able to focus his young team's energy on a non-English Premier League team, and the prospect of claiming an away goal in the first leg at Villarreal will have boosted his side's hopes of a making the semis.

"Of course it will be a special match. Returning there makes me very happy and today, as a Villarreal player, I want to win to continue in the competition with my team," said former Arsenal star Robert Pires.

The last time the sides met was at the semi-final stages in 2006, when Arsenal held on for a scoreless draw in Spain after claiming a 1-0 first leg win at the Emirates stadium. Villarreal did well to make the semis that year and will be hoping to go one better. If the Gunners do dominate the tie, they face a possible meeting with United.

Villarreal (ESP) - Arsenal (ENG)
Manchester United (ENG) - FC Porto (POR)
Liverpool (ENG) - Chelsea (ENG)
Barcelona (ESP) - Bayern Munich (GER)

Manchester United (ENG)/FC Porto (POR) - Villarreal (ESP)/Arsenal (ENG)
Barcelona (ESP)/Bayern Munich (GER) - Liverpool (ENG)/Chelsea (ENG)