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Manchester United to Face Real Madrid in Champions League

Real Madrid was drawn to play Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16. Barcelona will face AC Milan, while last season’s runner-up Bayern Munich takes on Arsenal.

In the other matches, Celtic will play Juventus, Porto faces tournament rookie Malaga and Paris Saint-Germain will vie with Valencia. Galatasaray faces Schalke and Shakhtar Donetsk plays Borussia Dortmund.

The televised draw was made today in Nyon, Switzerland, where European soccer ruling body UEFA is based. The two-part match-ups are scheduled for between Feb. 12 and Feb. 20, and between March 5 and March 13.

Record nine-time champion Real Madrid is seeking its first elite European title since 2002. United is aiming to add to the third one that it won in 2008.

“It’s a beautiful match-up for the fans,” Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno told Canal+ television. “To play Manchester is an extra motivation.”

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who left United for Real in 2009 for a record 80 million pounds ($130 million) fee, will return to Old Trafford for the contest, the first between the teams in the competition since 2003.

In that game nine years ago, Brazilian striker Ronaldo -- who retired in 2011 -- received a standing ovation from United’s fans as he scored three times. Real Madrid advanced 6-5 on aggregate.


United defender Rio Ferdinand welcomed today’s draw.

“Oh yes, Madrid!! What a great couple a games that’ll be!! @Cristiano see u soon bro!!” he said on social networking site Twitter.

Barcelona, which won three of its four European titles since 2006, is having its best start to a Liga season with 15 wins and a draw in its opening 16 games. AC Milan is seventh in Serie A after six defeats in 17 games.

“They’re not having their best moment but soccer changes from one week to the next,” Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Canal+.

Barcelona eliminated seven-time European champion AC Milan 3-1 over two games in last season’s quarterfinals.

Celtic, which inflicted Barcelona’s only loss in the group phase, faces a “very, very tough” opponent in Italian champion Juventus, coach Neil Lennon said. Celtic is seeking to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since the current Champions League format started in 1992.

Chelsea Out

“In terms of glamor it’s great,” Lennon told Sky Sports News. Although Juventus have been “very consistent,” Lennon said his squad “believes that with two games anything is possible.”

Chelsea, which beat Bayern on penalty kicks in last season’s final for its first title, was eliminated in the opening group phase on Dec. 5 and will take part in the second-tier Europa League, where it's drawn against Sparta Prague in the round of 32.

The Champions League final is scheduled for May 25 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Today’s draw produced exactly the same games that came out in a rehearsal yesterday. Bookmaker Coral said the odds of this happening were about 1,000-1.

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