Alex Ferguson joked he will have to order some fine wine after Manchester United were drawn against his old adversary Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid in a Champions League contest that will see Cristiano Ronaldo return to Old Trafford for the first time.
The two managers had a tradition of sharing a glass of red after their teams’ encounters in the Premier League — though Ferguson described the first wine Mourinho ever provided him as being “like paint stripper”.
Mourinho made amends with a €500 bottle of Portuguese red the next time around, and the last-16 match in the Champions League should be as mouth watering as the wine.
Ferguson said: “It’s the tie of the round. It’s a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also for me to meet up with Jose again — I’ll need to order some good wine!”
Legendary Real striker Emilio Butragueno, now the club’s director of institutional relations, said it would be a special match for Ronaldo — and for the two managers.
He said: “I am sure it will be a special game for him. He’s a great professional. I’m sure he’s going to do his best to help us qualify.
“It will be a thrilling experience for everyone. Manchester United are not only a great team but a great organisation known around the world.
“But we know it’s going to be tough, Alex Ferguson has been there over 25 years and he’s a fantastic manager — he knows how to get the best out of his players and they have top players, but we are Real Madrid and we will try our best.”
Arsenal will face last season’s beaten finalists Bayern Munich while Celtic will take on Italian champions Juventus as they look for a place in the quarter-finals.
Arsene Wenger’s Gunners last met at Bayern Munich at the same stage in 2005, with the German side progressing 3-2 on aggregate.
It will mean a meeting for Lukas Podolski with one of his former clubs and he acknowledged Bayern’s Champions League pedigree.
“Bayern is a big club, but we have the chance,” Podolski said.
“They have [Mario] Gomez up front, they have [Franck] Ribery, [Bastian] Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer.
“But there are two matches, one at home [and] one away, so both teams have the chance to win.”
Despite inconsistencies on the domestic front, Arsenal have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 13th consecutive season — a record bettered only by Real Madrid.
In the other matches, Barcelona will take on AC Milan, German champions Borussia Dortmund face Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia play Paris St Germain, Porto encounter Spanish side Malaga and Galatasaray will come up against Schalke.
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol is relishing a return to the San Siro where Barca won and drew last term, as they face AC Milan for the fifth and sixth times in successive seasons.
“Milan are a team I have always liked and I like playing there. They have an incredible stadium and I am sure this will be a fantastic eliminator,” said Puyol.
“[Last season] we lost the Uefa Champions League and the Liga practically in the same week. This time around we have started really well and we hope to continue along that path into 2013.
PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti is happy to avoid Real Madrid but is wary of Valencia. The two teams have never met in European competition.
“The most dangerous team were Real Madrid, but Valencia are historically very good in the Champions League,” said Ancelotti.
“On paper, Valencia are a better draw than Real Madrid. Our aim is obviously to reach the quarter-finals but we have two games to play before that and the second leg will be tough. I am not saying it is an easy draw, but if we play our best, we can qualify.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved