British hopefuls awaiting tough UCL draw

December 20, 2007

Arsenal, Liverpool and Celtic face the prospect of being handed tough opponents in the first knockout round of the Champions League tomorrow.

The draw in Nyon, Switzerland, at 1100 GMT will see the eight group winners pitted against runners-up in the last 16.

Because clubs cannot play those from the same association at this stage of the competition, it means Arsenal and Liverpool will face opponents from Spain (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Seville), Italy (AC Milan, Inter Milan) or Porto from Portugal.

Arsenal defender Kolo Toure said: 'We are prepared for any team that we come up against. We have done so well since the start of the season. There is no team that will think they can beat us and it will be easy.'

Fernando Torres wants Liverpool to draw his old adversaries Real Madrid.

'I hope that we draw Real Madrid - that would be a great tie,' he said.

'We have a chance to play a team from Spain or Italy, but playing Madrid would be really good.'

Celtic could also face Manchester United or Chelsea, but no club can play against a side they met in the group stage.

The task facing United and Chelsea looks altogether easier - with Lyon, Roma, Schalke, Olympiacos and Fenerbahce the potential opponents. The group winners also have the advantage of playing the second leg at home.

The UEFA Cup draw also takes place tomorrow - with Everton, Tottenham and Bolton involved.

As group winners, Everton are guaranteed a tie against a team that finished third in a group. By the same process, Bolton - one of those who came third - will have to play one of the group winners and will want to avoid Villarreal or Getafe from Spain.

Tottenham finished as runners-up and will be paired against one of the eight sides who finished third in their Champions League groups and now drop down to the UEFA Cup.

These include Rangers, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica.

Again, clubs cannot be paired with opponents from the same association or whom they met in the group.

UEFA Cup group winners and group runners-up will play their return leg matches at home.