Champions League Draw Set

To borrow a line from New York sports talk radio host Mike Francessa, the Round of 16 pairings for the UEFA Champions League are good, not great. The most noteworthy nugget to come out of the draw is that unlike years past, the four English teams -- Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea -- didn't get any favors and each have fairly difficult pairings. Based on all the matchups a repeat of an all-English final and three out of the final four from the Premier League seems increasingly unlikely.

At the top of this list is defending competition champion Manchester United playing Serie A leaders Inter Milan. Naturally, in the run up to this match we'll get literally hundreds of stories about Inter boss Jose Mourinho coming back to England. Mourinho is a master of mind games, but it's doubtful they'll work against another master of manipulation, Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson.

Last' year's runner-up Chelsea gets a pairing with Italy's Juventus, managed by former Blues boss Claudio Ranieri. Arsenal, meanwhile, get AS Roma, with the Italian captial club likely grateful they've avoided Manchester United.

The other massively intriguing affair pits Liverpool against Real Madrid. Again, the talk here will swirl around the managers, as Liverpool's Rafa Benetiz had been mentioned in the Spanish media as a possible candidate to take over Real Madrid. As for Madrid, which has sputtered in La Liga, it'll be fun to see if new boss Juande Ramos can achieve cup greatness as he did at Sevilla, winning back-to-back UEFA Cups.

Champions League Draw Set originally appeared on Soccer FanHouse on Fri, 19 Dec 2008 11:06:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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