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Rediff.com  » Sports » Time to relive finals as Champions League heads into quarters

Time to relive finals as Champions League heads into quarters

Last updated on: March 29, 2010 11:21 IST

Man U face '99 finals rivals Bayern

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Manchester United will be hoping to revisit 1999 rather than any of their other six meetings with the Bayern Munich when they face the Bavarians in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The 1999 clash, when the English side scored twice in the dying minutes for an epic 2-1 win, is one of two recent finals which will be relived in this week's quarter-final first legs as Arsenal and Barcelona, who met in 2006, also face each other.

Jose Mourinho's South America-inspired Inter Milan host secretive Russians CSKA Moscow and the all-French tie between Olympique Lyon and Girondins Bordeaux completes an intriguing line-up in which six countries are represented for the first time since 1998-99.

Lyon have knocked out former champions Real Madrid, who will be watching the quarter-finals from the sidelines for the sixth year in the row, and Liverpool.


Image: Manchester United captain Gary Neville
Photographs: Reuters
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'It's going to be difficult for us'

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Although United's win over Barcelona at the Nou Camp 11 years ago is etched in the memory, their other results against Bayern make less impressive reading with four draws and two defeats in six meetings, including four since 1999.

"The history of playing Bayern in past European ties tells you it's going to be very difficult for us," said United manager Alex Ferguson.

Bayen chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "Since the 1999 final, playing United has always been a big thrill. This duel has history so I'm looking forward to it."

While Ferguson is still at United, Felix Magath, Jupp Heynckes, Juergen Klinsmann and Louis van Gaal have all been in the hot seat at Bayern since 1999 and Ottmar Hitzfeld, his opposite number that night and now coach of Switzerland, also returned for a second stint.

Bayern could be without their best player after Dutch winger Arjen Robben pulled a calf muscle in their 2-1 defeat by VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.


Image: Bayern's main striker Arjen Robben will miss out due to injury

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Injured Iniesta to miss Arsenal tie

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Arsenal will have to find a way of stopping the exuberant Lionel Messi if they are to eliminate Barcelona, who will be without the injured Andres Iniesta.

Arsenal could take lessons from Osasuna and Real Mallorca, who stopped the Argentine from scoring in the last week although it did not prevent either side from losing to the Spanish champions.

Manager Arsene Wenger has ruled out a man-marking approach on Messi who scored successive La Liga hat-tricks against Valencia and Real Zaragoza this month as well as masterminding the 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart in the previous round.

"Once you start to man-mark one, it can work but in exceptional teams you have two or three you have to man-mark and then you have to go to a system where you could create your own problems just by following somebody everywhere," Wenger told the club's website.


Image: Lionel Messi

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Underdogs CSKA take on favourites Inter

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The winners will face either Inter Milan or CSKA, with the Italian Serie A leaders - who started with four Argentines and four Brazilians in their 1-0 win over Chelsea in the last round - as firm favourites.

The underdog role is not something which bothers the Russians, who knocked out Sevilla in the last round and accounted for German champions VfL Wolfsburg in the group phase.

"Inter were probably very happy after being drawn to face us," CSKA's Russian international Valerie Berezutsky told local media.

"I think they were already dreaming of a place in the semi-finals. That should suit us just fine."

Berezutsky added that the team took it easy against local rivals Dinamo after hearing that Mourinho was watching.

"We were told that Mourinho was in the stands so we tried to conceal our strengths on purpose," he said.


Image: Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o

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'We are playing against ourselves'

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France will have a representative in the semi-finals for the first time since Monaco in 2004 after Lyon were paired with Bordeaux.

Lyon have never reached the last four of Europe's premier competition while Bordeaux reached the semi-finals of the old European Cup in 1985.

After winning seven Ligue 1 titles in succession before losing their crown to Bordeaux last year, Lyon want to show they are still a force to be reckoned with.

"We're not playing against Bordeaux, we're playing against ourselves," Lyon keeper Hugo Lloris said.


Image: Olympique Lyon's goalkeeper Hugo Lloris

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