Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo will face his old club
Manchester United in the Champions League. REUTERS/Juan
Cristiano Ronaldo will return with nine-times winners
Real Madrid to Manchester United, where he developed into one
of the world's greatest forwards, and Lionel Messi's Barcelona
take on AC Milan in the Champions League last 16.
Bayern Munich, last season's beaten finalists, play Arsenal
and Juventus take on surprise qualifiers Celtic. Big-spending
Paris St Germain face Valencia.
But the fate of the two Spanish giants in Thursday's draw at
UEFA headquarters attracted most interest and both were
pitted against clubs with decades of European experience.
Real, the Spanish champions, have been disappointing in La
Liga this season and they finished second in their Champions
League group behind Borussia Dortmund.
But Ronaldo, a United player from 2003 to 2009, will be
desperate for Real to rise to the occasion against the club
at which he won the European Cup in 2008.
Real manager Jose Mourinho, once of Chelsea, will also come
up against his old rival Alex Ferguson.
"I'm sure it's going to be a special game for him (Ronaldo),"
said Emilio Butragueno, Real Madrid's director of
institutional relations. "I think the fans will be very, very
happy with this very attractive, thrilling tie.
"It will be a great experience for everybody. I would have
liked to have played against United later in the competition
but they won't be pleased either."
United, three-times European champions, have played Real
eight times and won only twice. Real, who will host United in
the first leg on Feb. 13, last won the European Cup in 2002.
Barcelona are now 2-1 favourites to win the Champions League
although they could hardly have picked a club with more
experience of success in Europe in seven-times winners AC
Milan when the competition resumes in mid-February.
World player of the year Messi has scored 90 goals in 2012
and has fired Barcelona to a nine-point lead in La Liga while
Milan are 14 points adrift of Juventus in Serie A and
finished second behind Malaga in their group.
Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Spanish
broadcaster Canal Plus: "Milan are one of Europe's greats and
a club that commands a huge amount of respect.
"They are not going well in their league right now but they
have some excellent players. They are not currently at their
best but football changes from one day to the next."
Juventus, who last won the European Cup in 1996, finished top
of their group and will not be disappointed to have drawn
Celtic who pulled off a major shock by beating Barcelona this
Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes Scottish lightning could
"Over two games anything is possible," he said. "It's a
beauty against one of the traditional European teams.
"In terms of quality it's going to be very, very tough."
Bayern Munich, beaten by Chelsea in last season's final, have
a nine-point lead in the Bundesliga and were content to have
drawn Arsenal who have struggled this season for any
"We can be satisfied with the draw, but we mustn't
under-estimate them," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz
"It's important we try to come away from London with a good
result, score a goal there and lay down a marker. We can win
it, and we start as favourites."
Chelsea failed to qualify for the last 16 from the group won
Paris Saint-Germain have invested heavily in players over the
past 12 months and now lead Ligue 1 on goal difference.
Valencia are mid-table in Spain and in some disarray after
losing to Rayo Vallecano at home at the weekend.
PSG sports director Leonardo said current form would have
little importance in February.
"In the Champions League, it always depends on the moment you
play the game, the run of form," he said.
"We are going to have a difficult encounter with Valencia who
are an experienced side," he said.
Valencia director Fernando Giner told Canal Plus: "If we have
got this far it's because we are among the 16 best teams in
Europe but PSG are a tough opponent.
"We have to be satisfied to be here and it's a way of coming
together at a difficult moment to achieve the result we all
want. During these difficult times the Champions League is
tremendously exciting for us."
In the other ties, Galatasaray will play Schalke 04, Shakhtar
Donetsk take on Dortmund and Porto face Malaga.
Dortmund, Bundesliga champions and winners of a tough group
including Real, Ajax and Manchester City, were wary of their
"They are not necessarily the team we would have wanted,"
said Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke. "It's a
very difficult tie but we showed in the group stage that we
can beat strong opponents."
Schalke were happy to draw Turkey's Galatasaray.
"There are no easy opponents at this stage of the competition
but to be frank I think we have a good chance of reaching the
quarter-finals if we play to our potential," said team
captain Benedikt Hoewedes.