Champions League Last 16 Draw 2012/2013By: Ian | December 20th, 2012
Well. Well, well. Well! Well, then. Right. Good. OK. Help.
As you may be aware, the draw for the last 16 of the Champions League took place this morning in a lecture theatre in Nyon. You’ll have all seen these before, you usually get a lot of men in suits who all sit with their notepads waiting to smile delightedly at the close-up camera when their draw is announced. This year’s final is to be held in Wembley, so naturally we need some an English ambassador for the final, someone who can explain the great advantages of playing the final in Wembley, someone who can conduct the draw, and also to give helpful tips on parking, travel arrangements and where the queue for a burger at half time is the shortest.
Having read the above, you will of course know there is only one man for the job. Yep, Steve Mcmanaman. He played at Old Wembley, he has hands to do the draw, he owns a car and he likes a burger as much as the next guy. Well, maybe that’s true, I don’t know, but he turned up in his best suit so it seemed only fair to let him do it. He did the draw earlier in the year, you may remember, and he’s gone on a course concerning the opening of those Champions League balls containing the team names. It’s a tough job.
Well, Steve was rolled out, with the chap in charge explaining it was protocol to ask Steve some pointless questions about what it felt to win the trophy, while some last minute admin was sorted out (whatever that was). Steve gave the only reply he could: winning the Champions League is completely pointless and is worth less than the Johnstone Paint Trophy. We’ve heard it a million times. Least he had a video montage as an intro, the UEFA guy didn’t get that, he just got his name announced and any applause was limited to the representatives of the UEFA appreciation society. Not many of them present judging by the roar of greeting.
UEFA guy then montonically explained the draw rules and regulations, using the word ‘er’ as a substitute for a full stop. Then on with the show. ‘In charge’ guy drew the runners-up first, for they are all to play their first legs at home. Out came Galatasaray, Utd’s group’s runner-up. Can’t play someone from your group, so Utd weren’t an option. UEFA guy picked the appropriate balls, ignoring those non-options, and put them in a fruit bowl for Steve to pick. Does he get paid for this? I don’t know, probably. Anyway, Galatasaray to face Schalke, who Utd steamrollered in the semi-final in 2011.
Next one was Arsenal. Same countries can’t play each other, so another non-option for Utd, leaving the Gunners to play Bayern Munich. I don’t see much hope for them there. Then came Shakhtar Donetsk. Long trip to Ukraine, and they performed well in the group, but Utd avoided this issue as the Ukrainian representatives drew Dortmund, Kagawa’s old side.
Champions League giants AC Milan were next. The draw only allowed one option, Barcelona. Must be a lovely feeling when the rules of a fair draw become such that your only game is Barca.
Then came out Real Madrid, probably the biggest side Utd could potentially face. Two options. Utd or French big-spenders, PSG. 50-50. Steve picks up the ball and it is, as I knew it would be, Utd. Real Madrid vs Utd. Sounds like a final, but it’s only the round of 16. So all those news reports about Ronaldo potentially coming back to Old Trafford will actually turn out to be true, if only on a one-game temporary basis. This is one hell of a pairing though. The Spanish side are serious heavy-hitters, and Utd’s defence will need some real work between now and February to cope. Can’t say I’m optimistic about progression, but what do you all think?
Just for completeness, Valencia then got PSG and the only pairing left, Porto vs Malaga.
Whether we play on a Tuesday or Wednesday will be decided about 12:15 apparently, which is surely the biggest consideration of Utd fans everywhere right now. So there we are, draw complete.
What do you think of the draw? Real Madrid vs Utd. Ronaldo going to punish a stumbling defence or are we good enough to get the job done?