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18.03.2010 17:48

The seven possible opponents

Jordi Clos

Arsenal, Bayern, CSKA Moscow, Girondins, Inter, Manchester United and Olympique Lyon are the clubs that Barça could be paired with in the draw for the Champions League, which will take place in Nyon on Friday.


The young and talented side managed by Arsene Wenger are a regular feature of the latter stages of the Champions League and in 2006 met Barça in the final in Paris. There are few survivors of that game, but the attacking style of play is the same. They are the leading goalscorers in the tournament so far with 18 goals. Led by Barça youth product Cesc Fàbregas, they are enjoying their strongest spell of the season and are still in the Premiership title race along with Manchester United and Chelsea. They thrashed Porto 5-0 at the Emirates.

Bayern Munich

A06.jpgCoached by former Barça manager Louis Van Gaal, Bayern have a solid block of players that are keen to establish the side as one o the strongest in Europe. The Bavarians have two first class wingers in Ribery and Robben. They are also on the rise and haven’t lost in 18 outings and are leading a very competitive Bundesliga. They qualified for the round by beating Fiorentina on away goals.

CSKA Moscow

The 2005 UEFA Cup winners are, like Zenit Saint Petersburg and Shakhtar Donetsk, another of the clubs from the former Soviet Union that have had such an impact on European football of late. The club, managed by Leonid Slutski, has managed to hold onto the stars that have brought them so much success, including Chilean Mark González and Serbian Milos Krasic. Against Sevilla in the previous round, they showed the world what they are capable of doing.

Girondins Bordeaux

Former Laurent Blanc has managed to bring the same elegant football out of his players that he displayed himself as a defender. After finally ending Olympique’s domination of the French championship, they are now seeking a place in the continental elite. They play excellent combination football that has often been compared to that of Barça, and youngsters Gourcuff and Chamakh are the latest sensations in France. And in defence they have a startling record: they have only conceded three goals in the Champions league this season.

Inter Milan

2009-11-24_PARTIDO_27.JPGBarça met this side in the group stages, and the Italians have now gone and eliminated one of the favourites, Chelsea, in José Mourinho’s triumphant return to Stamford Bridge. The Portuguese maestro has inflicted his winning mentality on the team, which is once again top of Serie A. This side has seen more yellow cards than any other (22), but can also play quality football. The neroazzuri have a top class squad, all the way from goalkeeper Julio César to creative midfielder Snejder and the lethal Eto’o up front.

Manchester United

The Red Devils are among the favourites as usual, and last year became the first team in fifteen years to make the final twice in a row. Sir Alex Ferguson once again has a beautifully streamlined team, even without Cristiano Ronaldo, and in Rooney has, along with Messi, one of the two most in-form strikers in the world, as he showed in United’s convincing win against the mighty AC Milan.

Olympique Lyon

Not many pundits had Lyon down as potential quarter finalists. Without stars like Juninho and Benzema they no longer dominate Ligue 1 as they did for so many years, but they have progressed by beating such sides as Liverpool and Real Madrid. They may lack the sparkle of recent years, but still have a compact team with enough firepower in attack. Pjanic, Gomis, Lisandro López and César Delgado are all capable of causing damage.
The seven possible opponents
Champions League record against Barça
Arsenal: Met Barça in the 99/00 group stages, when Barça won 2-4 at Wembley and drew 1-1 at the Camp Nou. And then there was also the unforgettable final in Paris.

Bayern: Last season, Barça knocked Bayern out in the quarter finals, thus avenging the two defeats in the group stages in FCB’s centenary year.

CSKA: The Russians put defending champions Barça out in the 1992/93 edition.

Girondins: This would be the first time the clubs have met.

Inter: They have only met Barça in the group stages, in 2003 and in the present edition. The result has been the same both times: 0-0 at the Giuseppe Meazza and a resounding win for Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

Manchester United: One of the classic ties of European football. The sides have played each other fourteen times. The last two were the most memorable, the semi finals in 07/08 and the final in 08/09, the former going United’s way, the latter Barça’s.

OL: These sides have been common opponents of late. Barça put Lyon out in the second round last year, and in six meetings, the French outfit has never beaten the Catalans.

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