The one thing the Champions League promises is great football with the best teams competing for the ultimate prize in Europe. Sometimes it can also promise that extra bit of drama which intriguing fixtures bring with them like 2 fixtures from today’s Champions League draw pitting a former ‘jilted’ manager against his old club, a super-star player returning to play against the club where he became the super-star that he is and a good old-fashioned managerial rivalry.
Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan drew Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea which means the ‘Special One’ will be returning to Stamford Bridge just 2 years after being sacked (oops! I meant after leaving the club ‘by mutual consent’). Jose Mourinho lead Chelsea to two Premier League titles and two Champions League semi-finals and surely will be warmly received by the fans at Stamford Bridge but they will also be all too aware of his strategic genius and wary of his famous mind games.
Carlo Ancelotti who is no stranger to Jose’s ways said “I’m not ready to play mind games. I never will be ready to play these games. I prefer to play football matches. I have experience of what he’ll do.”
The two managers have never really gotten along with Jose Mourinho once famously saying that the former AC Milan manger Carlo Ancelotti was ‘no friend of his’ but Ancelotti is hoping to change that. “If we don’t have a good relationship, this game can be a good opportunity to return to a good relationship,” said Ancelotti.
Mourinho who was adored by the players and the fans alike was quite unceremoniously sacked by Chelsea after being one of their most successful managers and will definitely be looking to prove a point. Carlo Ancelotti understands this perfectly,”I think that, for him, it will be an emotional game. He did a very good job here in Chelsea so to play against Chelsea won’t be easy for him. He will do his best to win.
“Mourinho did a very good job and maintained a very good relationship with these players. That’s normal. They won things and this will be a reminder of those seasons.”
Ancelotti added “It’s difficult because I think that Inter are, at this moment, the strongest team in Italy. They are at the top of the table. It’s difficult also for them, though, to play against Chelsea.”
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Another fixture that stands out from the draw is Manchester United versus AC Milan. This tie will see the return of David Beckham to Old Trafford. David Beckham is now a global superstar but was once one of ‘Fergies Fledglings’. Sir Alex Ferguson runs a tight shift and doesn’t tolerate superstars in his dressing room and his relationship with Beckham started to deteriorate as a result of Beckham’s commitments away from football. The fledgling grew up and spread his wings all the way to Real Madrid and then LA Galaxy This is the first time he will be returning to play where it all started. Also both these sides are footballing giants and have won 10 European Cups among them. The Italians triumphed in the 2007 semi-finals of this competition which was the last time that the two sides faced each other but both teams are quite changed since 2007 and without players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Paolo Maldini.
Let the games begin!
Last 16 draw
Internazionale v Chelsea
Lyon v Real Madrid
Milan v Manchester United
Olympiakos v Bordeaux
FC Porto v Arsenal
CSKA Moscow v Sevilla
Stuttgart v Barcelona
Bayern Munich v Fiorentina
The first-legs ties will be played on 16-17 February and 23-24 with the second-leg ties on 9-10 and 16-17 March.