Fergie to call on Rangers' Smith for Lyon advice

December 22, 2007

Sir Alex Ferguson will be able to call upon an old friend for advice before Manchester United face Lyon at the Stade Gerland in the final 16 of the Champions League.

Rangers boss Walter Smith masterminded a 3-0 win over the French champions in the group stage - an emphatic result which will give Ferguson confidence after United were pitted against them in yesterday's draw at UEFA headquarters in Switzerland.

However, Lyon did return the favour with a 3-0 win at Ibrox to deny Smith - Ferguson's assistant while coaching Scotland at the 1986 World Cup and for a spell at Old Trafford - and Rangers a place in the knockout phase.

United club secretary Ken Ramsden said: 'I am sure, without any doubt, that they will talk but Sir Alex knows what Lyon are up to and they will be well watched between now and then.

'I think Lyon were one of the stronger options for us. They are a good team but we like playing good teams.'

Lyon sporting director Marino Faccioli said: 'We are happy to play a big team like United.

'We had a slow start to the season because many players were injured and new to the club. They needed some games to make things right and now we are better.'

Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal will face reigning world and European club champions AC Milan, while Liverpool, beaten finalists last season, must take on runaway Serie A leaders Inter Milan. Both English sides will be at home in the first leg.

Liverpool will call on manager Rafa Benitez's tactical genius against Inter, who are unbeaten in Serie A this season and will start favourites.

In two of the previous three seasons under Benitez, the Reds were underdogs when knocking out Juventus, Barcelona and - in two semi-finals - Chelsea.

Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said: 'Rafa is a great tactician and ties like this one are absolutely where he comes into his own.

'It's a mouth-watering prospect but it's what European football is all about.'

It will be the first meeting between the sides since a European Cup semi-final in 1965, when Inter went through 4-3 on aggregate amid accusations a referee was bribed by the Italian club.

Parry added: 'With some of the fans, that memory will add a certain piquancy to the matches.'

Inter's general manager Ernesto Paolillo said: 'This is history but sometimes it is not the same as the next match.

'We have a lot of respect for Liverpool and it is a very difficult match.'

Chelsea will also be on their travels as they begin the knockout stage in Athens against Olympiacos, champions of Greece for the past three years.

Scottish champions Celtic will hope to take advantage of their terrific home form and passionate support when Barcelona, the 2006 Champions League winners, arrive at Celtic Park for the first leg of their tie.

In the other matches, Schalke face Porto, Roma host Real Madrid, while Fenerbahce are at home first against Sevilla.

The first-leg matches will be played on February 19 or 20, with the return matches on March 4 or 5 - except for Inter Milan v Liverpool on March 11.