March 15 – A mouth-watering Champions League quarterfinal draw saw Tottenham Hotspur draw the short straw by being paired with Premier League champions Manchester City while Barcelona meet Manchester United in a repeat of the 2009 and 2011 finals both won by the Catalan giants.
In the other two ties Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus meet Ajax Amsterdam, who are back in the last eight after a 16-year absence while Liverpool, last season’s beaten finalists, got lucky by being drawn against Porto in a repeat of last year’s last 16 tie which they won 5-0 on aggregate.
“I could not be further away from thinking it’s the best draw because it isn’t – it is just the draw, it’s the opponent we have to prepare for and that’s all we will be thinking about from when we start preparing for the game,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as he played down Liverpool’s good fortune.
The semi-final pairings were also made with Tottenham or City to face Ajax or Juventus and Manchester United or Barcelona to meet either Liverpool or Porto.
The draw had an unusual feel with Real Madrid, winners on the last three occasions, no longer in the hat. Nor were any German teams after the elimination of both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
With four English teams in the last eight, it was always likely two of them would be paired together but no-one wanted to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, tournament favourites alongside Barca who are in the last eight for the 12th successive season.
Barcelona were handed an extra mini-advantage when UEFA switched the order of ties. City and United were both drawn way in the first legs but are not allowed to play at home on the same day or even consecutive nights. UEFA therefore switched the order in order to avoid United’s home match clashing with City’s game with Spurs.
United’s tie will have special resonance for interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who returns to the Nou Camp 20 years after he scored a dramatic injury-time winner there against Bayern Munich in the 1999 final.
Juventus are unbeaten in their last ten meetings with Ajax, the surprise package of the last eight having knocked out Real.
|Ajax v Juventus|
|Liverpool v Porto|
|Tottenham v Manchester City|
|Barcelona v Manchester United|
|Tottenham/Manchester City v Ajax/Juventus|
|Barcelona/Manchester United v Liverpool/Porto|
The draw was also made for the Europa League quarterfinals with Arsenal versus Napoli the pick of the bunch.
Europa League quarter-finals:
Napoli v Arsenal
Villarreal v Valencia
Benfica v Eintracht Frankfurt
Slavia Prague v Chelsea
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