Mouth-watering. Clash of the Titans. Return of Cristiano Ronaldo. Sir Alex vs. Jose Mourinho.
These were some of the multitude of exclamations that were uttered when the draw for the Knockout Stages of UEFA Champions League 2012/13 was revealed earlier today.
For the standout tie of the round was Manchester United vs. Real Madrid. The two biggest football clubs in the world will do battle in the round of 16 come February and again in March 2013 to secure their passage into the last 8 of the competition. Full draw is as below:
Other tantalizing fixtures include Arsenal taking on Bayern Munich, Barcelona tussling with AC Milan and Juventus getting to battle Celtic. But those pale in comparison to the battle of the big two in club football!
One has to hark back to the 2002/03 season for United & Madrid’s last meeting at the European stage – Madrid running out eventual winners by 6-5. The stakes are much higher this time around. With their La Liga defense looking all but over, what with a 13 point deficit to Barcelona, and talks of Mourinho heading for the Bernabeu exit, the CL remains Madrid’s top priority.
For Sir Alex, another European triumph might only be second on his to-do list after wresting back the EPL crown from City but that doesn’t make it less wanted. Especially after those defeats to Barcelona and their disappointing campaign last season in the CL.
As I said in my post about the group stages’ draw – once gain, Le Jeu Commence!
The 2012-13 domestic football season has started off in earnest across across Europe over the past few weeks and it is just a matter of days before the continental championship kicks off as well. The draw for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 was held earlier today and the best of European clubs found out whom they will be facing come September
Holders Chelsea are grouped alongside Juventus whereas Arsenal have Schalke & Montpellier for company. Manchester United have an easy looking draw with Galatasaray, CFR Cluj & Braga being their opponents; but we all know what happened last season with a similar “easy looking” draw! The toughest group has to be Group D with Real Madrid, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund in there…and yeah, Manchester City round off that group…all four champions of their respective leagues!
The first legs of the round robin matches start on the 18th of September and the group stage will complete on the 5th of December. Le jeu commence.
The 2012 European Football Championships get underway today in Poland & Ukraine with the top sixteen teams in Europe battling it out for getting crowned the continent’s best team. Billed as the third biggest (er…fourth or fifth, if you believe the yoo-yes-yay doubters who say the Superbowl or NBA finals are bigger) global sporting event after the Olympics and the World Cup, the Euro is a coveted tournament for the football-crazy continent.
Of course Spain are the team to beat this year (reigning World Champions and Euro Champions and all that hoo-haa) and Germany & Netherlands are being touted as the next hot favourites. Italy, France and England the outside bets (why do I hear laughter). But is there a surprise on the cards? Can Croatia or Portugal do a ‘Greece’ and emerge champions of Europe?
All will be revealed on July 1st (too bad it will be revealed on Neo Prime/Sports *shudder*)
The draw for the 2012 UEFA Champions League was held earlier today and as usual, one of two interesting ties were thrown out. Holders Barcelona would take on Serie A champions AC Milan whilst the lone remaining English side Chelsea were handed a trip to Portugal against Benfica.
Real Madrid were handed an easy match against Cypriot side APOEL, whose fairytale run in this season’s tournaments continues. Bayern Munich take on French side Marseille in the remaining QF.
First legs of the matches are on the 27th/28th of March with the return legs on 7th/8th of April. The Semi Finals’ first legs are scheduled for 17th/18th of April and return legs on 24th/25th of April. Final is on the 19th of May at Bayern’s Allianz Arena.
The draw for the round of 16 matches of the UEFA Champions League 2011-2011 was made earlier today at Nyon.
And know what, there is no Manchester United innit! They are in the draw for the *blegh* Europa League
Pick of the lot? AC Milan Vs. Arsenal. I’d also expect Chelsea to be given a stern test my the Napoli whiz-trio of Hamsik, Cavani & Lavezzi…but it remains to be seen if either or all of them will still be with Napoli come February
The first legs will be played on 14/15 & 21/22 February 2012 with the return legs on 6/7 & 13/14 March 2012