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Holders thrilled by 'extraordinary tie'

Published: Friday 15 December 2006, 23.45CET
The last two names on the European Champion Clubs' Cup, FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC, are relishing their first knockout round encounter in February and March.
Published: Friday 15 December 2006, 23.45CET

Holders thrilled by 'extraordinary tie'

The last two names on the European Champion Clubs' Cup, FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC, are relishing their first knockout round encounter in February and March.

The last two names on the European Champion Clubs' Cup are FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC. Only one of those teams will be in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after they were drawn together in the first knockout round.

'Extraordinary tie'
Barcelona president Joan Laporta said: "It will be a meeting of the last two champions, so it is going to be an extraordinary tie. I am happy with the draw. Liverpool are one of the sides I fancied at this stage. They are powerful opponents who play very physical football and have players we know very well, like Luis García and Xabi Alonso. But let's not forget, we are the team to beat this season."

'Nothing to lose'
Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez, familiar with Barcelona from his time as Valencia CF coach, said: "We know they are a good team. They won the Champions League last season so it is a difficult draw, but we have two months to prepare and we have nothing to lose. Everybody says Barcelona are one of the best sides in the world so we have to upset the situation. We have to be mentally ready to play against very good players. I have experience of playing at the Nou Camp with Valencia and we did quite well there. Hopefully we'll do well again."

Past tussles
The teams' only previous tussles in the premier European club competition came in 2001/02, when they faced off in the second group stage. Barcelona won 3-1 at Anfield, before Liverpool held them to a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou and went through in second place behind the Catalans, who reached the last four, one stage further than the Reds. The pair have, however, met in two UEFA Cup semi-finals with Liverpool coming out on top on both occasions - prevailing by 1-0 in Barcelona in 1976 before a 1-1 home draw. Twenty-five years later it was 0-0 in Barcelona and 1-0 at Anfield. Both times Liverpool went on to lift the trophy.

Omens
It may be a good omen for them, therefore, that Barcelona again stage the first leg on Wednesday 21 February, with the return on Tuesday 6 March. Against that, Barcelona can look back to last season when they were also given English opposition at this juncture, their victory against Chelsea FC setting them up for a successful run to Paris.

Last updated: 18/12/06 10.44CET

Related information

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http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=491430.html#holders+thrilled+extraordinary+tie

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