David Beckham is set to return to Old Trafford sporting the colours of AC Milan while Jose Mourinho will be plotting a familiar path back to Stamford Bridge after an intriguing Champions League draw on Friday.
AC Milan, who have signed Beckham on a short-term loan from LA Galaxy, were drawn against his former club Manchester United in the last 16 knockout round while Inter Milan, where Mourinho is now coach, were paired with Chelsea, where he won two Premier League titles in three seasons.
"There are two clashes between Italian and English teams which will put two of the biggest sides in Europe out," Barcelona's technical director Txiki Begiristain told Gol television after the holders were given a relatively easy tie against troubled VfB Stuttgart.
"That makes a potential quarter-final even more attractive."
Nine-times winners Real Madrid, for whom another title this season is seen almost as an obligation as the final will be played at the Bernabeu, will face Olympique Lyon.
Sevilla face the unenviable prospect of an icy trip to Moscow in February after being drawn against CSKA Moscow, where they will play on an artificial surface.
The other ties paired Porto and Arsenal, Olympiakos and French champions Girondins Bordeaux and four-times winners Bayern Munich with Fiorentina.
Beckham, who said earlier this week that he was longing for an Old Trafford return after a seven-year absence, was given his wish in a repeat of a 2007 semi-final which seven-times champions AC Milan won emphatically.
Manchester United director of communications Phil Townsend told Sky Sports News: "He'll get a fantastic reception as players coming back usually do at United.
"Obviously he was a very popular player with the fans when he was there, a terrific servant for the club and we all hope he is playing for them."
Milan's organisational Umberto Gandini told reporters: "I think David wanted this match and destiny looked after him.
"It's one of the historical challenges you find on the way through the Champions League.
"It's a difficult match but we can only we helped by the fact that the last time we played Manchester United, we qualified."
RETURN WITH RELISH
Former Inter Milan and Portugal forward Luis Figo, who has taken an ambassadorial role for the club, said Mourinho, a Champions League winner with Porto, would also relish the return to his old hunting group.
"It's always good to go back to a place where you have been successful and I think it will be a difficult match for both teams," Figo told reporters. "He brought them titles. I think the people love him and it will be an emotional return for him."
Begiristain was cautious about the draw against Stuttgart, who are 15th in the Bundesliga and qualified despite firing Markus Babbel and replacing him with Christian Gross days before their final group game.
"We mustn't be too confident about this," he told reporters. "We must take it seriously. They will have time to prepare for the games against us and we must be ready."
Real Madrid's tie against Lyon will see Karim Benzema, part of Real's massive off-season rebuilding programme, play against his former club.
Bayern's general director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, whose team qualified with a 4-1 win at Juventus, was not disappointed at facing Fiorentina. "There were certainly tougher draws than this," he said.
The first legs will be played on Feb 15/16 with the returns two weeks later. The teams who finished as runners-up in the group stage will play at home in the first leg.