With now only 8 teams remaining in each respective tournament, UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon (Switzerland) will host the draws on Friday afternoon for the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals of the 2007/08 UEFA club competitions, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup.
The UEFA Champions League draw will be made at 13.00CET and conducted by the UEFA General Secretary (David Taylor) and the ambassador for the final in Moscow on May 21st (Russian goalkeeping legend Rinat Dasaev). The UEFA Cup draw will follow at 14.00CET and will be conducted by Mr Taylor and the ambassador for the May 14th final in Manchester (1964 European Footballer of the Year Denis Law).
UEFA Champions League
The 8 winners of the ties played in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League will contest the Quarter-Finals, with the pairings determined by an open draw – meaning no country protection. The Quarter-Finals are played on a home-and-away basis, with the first legs on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday April 2nd and the return matches the following week. The 4 winning teams will, at that stage, know who they will meet in the Semi-Finals (to be played on April 22/23 and 29/30), as the pairings will also be decided during the draw ceremony.
A further draw will also define whether the winner of Semi-Final 1 or the winner of Semi-Final 2 will be considered, for administrative purposes, as the ‘home’ team at the Luzhniki Stadium final. The match in Moscow kicks off at 22.45 local time (20.45CET).
The same procedure will apply for the draw for the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals of the UEFA Cup. The Quarter-Final matches will be played on April 3 and 10, and the Semi-Finals on April 24 and May 1. The City of Manchester Stadium final kicks off at 19.45 local time (20.45CET).
Roma and Fiorentina await
For the Italian teams involved, Roma and Fiorentina, hopes turn towards the luck of the draw.
As far as Roma are concerned, the odds of drawing an English team (given the presence of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal) are about 1 in 2, and we all know that English teams haven’t been very kind to Italians lately. Above all, Roma will want to avoid another confrontation with Manchester United, given last year’s 7-1 defeat at Old Trafford (probably still an open wound back in Rome). The Red Devils have been running at full steam ahead lately, both in domestic and European context, and can count on a fearsome striking force lead by the likes of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tévez, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Liverpool doesn’t bring back happy memories either, since the Anfield Reds have already eliminated the Giallorossi countless times before in European Cups, and are looking a strong contender after causing the elimination of current Serie A champions Inter Milan.
As for Arsenal, well… they’re leading the Premier League, and whoever thought the Gunners’ young age and inexperience would cause their demise was forced to shut his trap following the Milan-Arsenal game. Having reformed brilliantly under Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor (after Thierry Henry’s departure to Barcelona), the technique, speed, and hunger for trophies of Arsène Wenger’s boys may well prove a determining factor in the hunt for the ‘Cup with the Big Ears’. Chelsea is the team which currently (given their not-so-brilliant moment of form) would offer the least amount of resistance, but we are still talking about a roster of superstars, filled with the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Didier Drogba. Not exactly your ordinary Sunday league players.
Ideally, Roma would prefer a confrontation with Fenerbahce or Schalke 04. The Istanbul team has arrived for the first time to the Champions League Quarter-Final stage, after eliminating current UEFA Cup champions Sevilla to penalties. Guided by Brazilian legend Zico, Fenerbahce can count on their army of quality South-American recruits and a potentially decisive home factor, inside the 4 walls of Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. As for Schalke 04, their double header against Porto in the Round of 16, was decided in large part thanks to the help of the public and that of keeper Manuel Neuer (capital during the penalty shootout).
As for Barcelona, their technical level is probably the highest of all 8 teams remaining in the competition, but their playing level is not at its best lately. With Rijkaard being openly criticized by the Nou Camp faithful, Ronaldinho and Henry struggling to return to top form, and Lionel Messi out injured for at least a month (he will miss the Quarter-Finals), there’s no telling whether the Catalan giants will kill and destroy or crash and burn.
Roma’s Head-to-Head meetings in UEFA club competition
|2002/03 UEFA Champions League second group stage – 1-3 (h), 1-1 (a)|
|2001/02 UEFA Champions League second group stage – 1-1 (a), 3-0 (h)|
|2001/02 UEFA Champions League second group stage – 0-0 (h), 0-2 (a)|
|2000/01 UEFA Cup fourth round – 0-2 (h), 1-0 (a)|
|1983/84 European Champion Clubs’ Cup final – 1-1 (2-4 penalties, Rome)|
|vs. Manchester United|
|2007/08 UEFA Champions League group stage – 0-1 (a), 1-1 (h)|
|2006/07 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals – 2-1 (h), 1-7 (a)|
Finally in the UEFA Cup, the team to avoid for Fiorentina is without a doubt Luca Toni’s Bayern Munich, as the German giants’ domination in the Bundesliga has truthfully been frightening this season. As for other sides left in contention (from Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven to Russian team Zenit St. Petersburg), they all seem within Fiorentina’s reach although, at this stage of the competition, it would be unwise to still talk about ‘easy teams’.
For all those of you who are interested, I will be covering Friday’s draw LIVE on Soccerlens.com, starting at 13:00 CET (8:00 ET).