Manchester United will play David Beckham’s AC Milan in the Champions League round of 16 after the draw made today in Nyon, Switzerland. The draw at UEFA’s HQ, conducted by Emilio Butragueño, pits Sir Alex Ferguson’s beaten finalists against the Italian Group C runners-up, with matches on 16 February and 10 March 2010.
The fixture is Beckham’s first opportunity to return to Old Trafford after his transfer to Real Madrid in 2003. Beckham, now 34, is on loan at AC Milan from LA Galaxy for the rest of the season. The right-sided midfielder left in controversial circumstances following a breakdown in his relationship with manager Ferguson. Beckham, who claimed that he did not want to leave United, was later shown to have negotiated with Real Madrid for several months, earning the England international the Liar23 nickname
Clubs from the same association could not be drawn against each other in the last 16, nor could winners and runners-up from the same group. In a change made this season last-16 matches will be split over eight nights to maximise television exposure. The first knockout round first-leg ties will be played on 16/17 and 23/24 February with the second legs scheduled for 9/10 and 16/17 March.
“We are ready for Manchester United. They won the group and are a very strong team. They were runners up last year to Barcelona and they play great football,” Milan director Umberto Gandini told Sky Sport Italia after the draw.
“It will bring back memories of the 2007 semi-final against them. We played the perfect game back then and it took us to the final, we hope history can repeat itself. In any case we are ready for them.
“We have to be careful and watch for players like Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and the rest of the squad.”
United will play the first leg of their last-16 tie in Milan on 16 February with the return at Old Trafford on 10 March. The club’s director of communications Phil Townsend said that Beckham will get a warm reception on his return to Manchester.
“It will be fantastic,” Townsend told Sky Sports News.
“I think everyone at Old Trafford will be absolutely delighted, it’s what the Champions League is all about.
“He (Beckham) will get a fantastic reception, as players coming back usually do at Manchester United. He was a terrific servant for the club and we all hope he will be playing.”
In other matches Premier League teams Arsenal and Chelsea will play Porto and Inter Milan. Meanwhile Liverpool will play fellow Champions League failures Unirea Urziceni in the Europa League. Merseyside on Channel Five never stops being funny.
Full UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Draw
Barcelona v VfB Stuttgart
Girondins de Bordeaux v Olympiakos
Chelsea v Inter Milan
Fiorentina v Bayern Munich
Sevilla v CSKA Moscow
Real Madrid v Olympique Lyonnais
Arsenal v FC Porto
MANCHESTER UNITED v AC Milan