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Champions League Draw Preview

The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Champions League will be made tomorrow at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

The eight winners of the Champions League first knockout round ties will go into the quarter–finals, with the pairings determined by an open draw. At this stage of the tournament, no teams are seeded and clubs from the same national association can be drawn against each other. The quarter-finals are played on a home-and–away basis, with the first legs scheduled for Tuesday 30 and Wednesday 31 March and the return matches the following week, on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 April.

The four victorious teams will, at this point, know their semi-final opponent, as these pairings will also be decided during the 19 March draw ceremony. The first legs of the semi-finals will be contested two weeks after the quarter-finals, on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 April, with the second legs staged on Tuesday 27 April and Wednesday 28 April.

I rank the eight teams left in the tournament this way:

  1. Barcelona
  2. Manchester United
  3. Inter Milan
  4. Arsenal
  5. Bayern Munich
  6. CSKA Moscow
  7. Lyon
  8. Bordeaux

The two best teams left in the draw are Barcelona and Manchester United and if they are kept apart in tomorrow’s draw, I would expect them to meet in the final on 22 May at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium. This of course would be a repeat of last season’s final which Barca won 2-0.

Inter were really impressive in beating Chelsea and a Jose Mourinho side is always hard to beat. Inter’s form has been up and down this season, but based on the Chelsea performance I have then ranked as the 3rd best team left in the tournament.

Behind Inter comes Arsenal, Bayern and CSKA Moscow. Arsenal were really impressive in beating Porto and their success in the tournament depends on who they play. I can see them beating Bordeaux and Lyon, while Bayern and CSKA would be really tough games for them.

Bayern’s never say die attitude against Fiorentina in the last round was impressive. Several times Bayern fell behind, but they were able to pull out a victory due to the magic of Robben and Ribery. I don’t think their defence is strong enough to beat the top teams, but they will not be an easy team to beat.

CSKA Moscow was impressive in beating Seville. They are undefeated in their last five Champions League games and a dark horse team, that neither Barca, Man United or Inter will want to play.

The two French sides are the two weakest teams in the draw and who ever gets them will be looking at a semi-final place.

Do you agree or disagree with my rankings?