Hughes confident of English Euro success

December 15, 2006

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes believes English sides can go all the way in Europe because the Premier League is the best in the world.

There are four English representatives in today's draw for the Champions League first knock-out round, and three more in the UEFA Cup draw.

Furthermore, all seven came top of their groups in the first stage of the two European competitions.

Hughes said: 'The Premier League is the strongest in the world. The teams we have come up against are good teams but you could argue they are not of the quality of Premier League teams. They don't have the power and the pace teams here do.

'There is great individual talent as well. In Europe it tends to be more of a tactical exercise.'

The spectre of Spanish or Scottish opposition in the next round of the Champions League is looming for at least one of the four Premiership clubs in the draw.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all finished top of their groups, meaning they will play a group runner-up in the first knock-out round of Europe's top club competition.

Barcelona and Real Madrid were both runners-up in the group stage and with only 16 teams in the draw, there is a real chance of an Anglo-Spanish clash.

Chelsea will definitely not face Barcelona in the first knockout round however, as they were in the same group.

Scottish champions Celtic could also have English opposition - they cannot play Manchester United, but three out of seven potential opponents are from the Premiership.

Italian sides Inter Milan and Roma are also possible opponents for the English sides, along with Lille, PSV Eindhoven and Porto. Celtic could also face AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Valencia or Lyon.

The group winners will play the second legs of the first knock-out round at home, and a team making it through to the quarter-finals will face an open draw against any of the other seven sides left in.

The draw takes place at 1100 GMT in Nyon, Switzerland, followed an hour later by the draw for the first knock-out round of the UEFA Cup, involving 32 clubs.

Blackburn, Tottenham, Newcastle and Rangers all topped their groups meaning they will play a side that finished third.

The runners-up will face a more daunting challenge against the eight teams that drop drown from the Champions League after finishing third in their group.

The group winners and runners-up will have the privilege of playing the second leg at home.