Barça And Arsenal Matched Up In Champions League Quarter-Finals
By Dialogo March 22, 2010Barcelona, the defending champion and the only Spanish team still in competition, will meet Arsenal, from England, in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it was determined in Friday’s lottery, in which the other match-ups were Bayern-Manchester, Inter-CSKA, and Lyons-Bordeaux. The first Barça-Arsenal game will be played at Emirates Stadium on 31 March, and the second will be at Camp Nou on 6 April. In the semifinals, Barcelona could face Inter, from Milan, the a priori favorite, or CSKA, from Moscow, while the winner of the Lyons-Bordeaux set will face either Bayern Munich, or Manchester United. Barcelona is hence facing Cesc Fábregas’s Arsenal, which will be seeking revenge for the final in Paris in May 2006 (a 2-1 Catalan victory), with the small advantage of playing the second game at home. Josep Guardiola’s team starts out as the favorite thanks to its forwards, with Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the head, and with a center line unequaled in Europe, with Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, and Yaya Touré. The quarter-finals will also be an occasion for reunions, Fábregas’s return to Camp Nou but also the reunion with his former teammates of Frenchman Thierry Henry, who played for Arsenal in the 2006 final. In the other quarter-final match-ups, Milan’s Inter, coached by Jose Mourinho and the favorite after having eliminated Chelsea from the European competition, will take the measure of Moscow’s CSKA, one of the least prominent teams still in the tournament. “I know from experience that it’s after the games that you know whether the draw was favorable or not (...) We shouldn’t underestimate our opponent; playing CSKA won’t be easy,” Inter’s general manager, Ernesto Paolillo, told the Sky Sport television network. For Bayern Munich, things will be more complicated, and its match-up against Manchester United and the latter’s star forward Wayne Rooney will be one of the most anticipated in this round. “It’s a difficult draw, but also one that gets the emotions going. Manchester United is the favorite in this duel, but that’s what’s most interesting, bringing the favorite down,” said Bayern Munich president, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. In addition, the confrontation with Manchester will have for the Germans the added attraction of revenge for the defeat suffered in the 1999 final (2-1). In the last match-up, the pairing of the two French teams still in the tournament, Lyons and Bordeaux, two rivals who know each other well from the first-division championships, ensures that France will have a presence in the semifinals (against Bayern Munich or Manchester United).