NYON: Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid appeared to be on course for another Champions League confrontation after the two favourites drew comparative comfortable tasks in the second round draw, made today at UEFA headquarters near Geneva.
Barcelona, who face Santos of Brazil for the world club crown in Tokyo on Sunday, will face 2002 runners-up Bayer Leverkusen from Germany while Madrid play CSKA Moscow who are likely to be ring-rusty after the wimter break in the newly-reorganised Russian season.
Madrid lost 0-2, 1-1 to Barcelona in a stormy semi-final last season.
Bayern Munich, who host the final at the AllianzArena, have been paired with Basel – conquerors of Manchester United – while the 2010 champions Internazionale Milan will face Marseille. Zenit St Petersburg take on Benfica and Lyon – after their remarkable group comeback against Dinamo Zagreb – should beat APOEL Nicosia, first Cypriots in the Champions League knockout rounds.
England’s two Premier League survivors, Chelsea and Arsenal, must both pass Italian tests, with Chelsea drawing Napoli and the Gunners landing AC Milan. Napoli were responsible for Manchester City’s exit after taking four points off Roberto Mancini’s side in Group A and their forward pairing of Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi is one of the most feared in Europe.
As group winners both English sides will play away in the first leg, which takes place on February 14/15 or 21/22 with the return fixtures on March 6/7 and 13/15.
In the second round of the Europa League there will be awkward tasks for England’s Manchester City, Manchester United and Stoke. Roberto Mancini’s side drew holders Porto and their neighbours were paired with fellow Champions League dropouts Ajax, while Stoke face Valencia.
Porto, who secured the trophy last year under the guidance of now Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, host City in the first leg before a return fixture at the Etihad Stadium, while United will play in the Amsterdam ArenA first.
City and Ajax both found themselves in the Europa draw after being edged out of hard groups – City, finishing behind Bayern Munich and Napoli and the Eredivisie side missing out to Lyon and Real Madrid.
Both United and Porto were bettered by less fancied opposition, with Ferguson’s side third behind Basel and Benfica and the Portuguese club edged by Apoel Nicosia and Zenit St Petersburg.
Ferguson initially described dropping into the competition as a “penalty”, but later suggested he had been misunderstood.
Lazio meet Atletico Madrid in another eye-catching fixture that will see one side fall well short of their expectations in the competition.
The three other drop-in sides from the Champions League – Viktoria Plzen, Trabzonspor and Olympiacos – have been matched with Schalke, PSV Eindhoven and Rubin Kazan respectively.
The remaining fixtures in the round of 32 are Salzburg v Metalist Kharkiv, AZ Alkmaar v Anderlecht, Steaua Bucharest
v FC Twente, Lokomotiv Moscow v Athletic Bilbao, Udinese v PAOK Salonika, Braga v Besiktas, Wisla Krakow v Standard Liege, Hannover v Club Brugge and Legia Warsaw v Sporting Lisbon.
The following draw was also made for the third round (March 8 and 15):
Salzburg/Metalist v Rubin/Olympiacos
Legia/Sporting v Porto/Manchester City
Steaua/Twente v Plzeň/Schalke
Wisła/Standard v Hannover/Club Brugge
Stoke/Valencia v Trabzonspor/PSV
AZ/Anderlecht v Udinese/PAOK
Lazio/Atlético v Braga/Beşiktaş
Ajax/Manchester United v Lokomotiv/Athletic Bilbao