NYON: Barcelona will meet Manchester United in the Champions League last eight in a repeat of the 2009 and 2011 finals which were both won by the Catalans, with the help of goals from Lionel Messi.
Manchester City face Tottenham Hotspur in an all-Premier League clash, their first European meeting, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus meet Ajax Amsterdam, who are back in the last eight after a 16-year absence.
Five-times European champions Liverpool, the fourth English representatives and beaten finalists last year, will face Porto in a repeat of last year’s last-16 tie which they won 5-0 on aggregate.
The semi-final pairings were also made with Tottenham or City to face Ajax or Juventus and Manchester United or Barcelona to meet either Liverpool or Porto.
The draw had an unusual feel with neither Bayern Munich nor Real Madrid in the hat, the first time both European giants have failed to reach the last eight since 2005-06.
English hopes are high that this could be their year in Europe’s elite club competition after all four of their representatives made it through to the last eight.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United will have their work cut out if they are to go any further as they take on five-times winners Barca in the headline tie.
For Solskjaer, the second leg will bring back memories of the 1999 final, when the Norwegian came off the bench to score a stoppage-time winner for United against Bayern Munich at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium.
Barca, who are in the last eight for the 12th successive season, will be away in the first leg after UEFA switched the order to avoid United’s home match clashing with City, who host Spurs in their second leg.
Tottenham will host City in the first leg, which could be played at Wembley Stadium or at the north London club’s soon-to-be-completed new arena.
The draw means there will be three clashes between the sides in 10 days in April with a Premier League fixture following hot on the heels of their second leg.
Ajax, once a major European power who struggle to compete financially with clubs from bigger leagues, ousted Real in the last 16 and their tie against Juventus will be a repeat of the 1996 final, which the Serie A club won on penalties. They also met in the final of the old European Cup in 1973 with the Dutch side winning 1-0.
FC Porto, who won the competition in 2004 under Jose Mourinho, are confident they can spring an upset after last year’s mauling.
“We have to keep dreaming and believe we can go further,” said midfielder Jesus Corona.
The two-legged quarter-finals take place on April 9-10 and 16-17. The final is scheduled for June 1 at the Metropolitano Stadium, the home of Atletico Madrid.
Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2019