Well the conspiracy theory didn’t come true. There was only one all-English quarter final drawn (Liverpool v Chelsea) which left one tie without an English team, this turned out to be Bayern Munich v Barcelona, which promises to be a fantastic tie. It will be interesting to see how Bayern play after crushing Sporting Lisbon 12-1 on aggregate and therefore not really having a European test since early December in the group stage. The full draw in case you didn’t know was as follows:

Villarreal v Arsenal
Manchester United v Porto
Liverpool v Chelsea
Bayern Munich v Barcelona

The semi final draw was then also made:

Villarreal/Arsenal v Man U/Porto
Liverpool/Chelsea v Bayern/Barcelona

In the final the winners of the Liverpool/Chelsea v Bayern/Barcelona semi-final will be designated the home team.

In the build-up to the draw the talk was about which teams were the worst to draw, the consensus being that, after their 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid and 1-4 thrashing of Man United in the space of a few days, Liverpool were the team to avoid. I doubt Chelsea will be too disappointed though, there’s still an air of invincibility around Stamford Bridge that stems from the Jose Mourinho era. This could be vital as with the 1st leg due to be played at Anfield any ‘special European night on Merseyside’ factor will be nullified.

Rafa’s record in Europe will scare them though and he still holds the edge over them in the past few years. When they met in the 2005 semi-finals Liverpool won 1-0 on aggregate due to a controversial Luis Garcia goal and then won again on penalties in 2007, Chelsea managed to progress when they met up in the semi-finals last year though, and the telling factor that time was the fact that the 1st leg was at Anfield instead of Stamford Bridge, where it had been held in the two previous occasions.

Arsenal and Man United will both be pleased with their draws especially Arsenal who have the cushion of the 2nd leg at home in case they have some trouble in Villarreal. Conversely Man United will be confident that they can see Porto off in the 1st leg without having to deal with a hostile atmosphere in Portugal. Barcelona will be hoping to emulate their Champions League win in 2006 and could face a re-match with Arsenal in the Final assuming they both get through. While UEFA President Michel Platini may be annoyed that 4 English teams are still in the competition it’s obvious that these quarter-finals are going to be better with them than without them.


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