Two high-profile reunions will dominate the headlines when the UEFA Champions League resumes after its winter break, as David Beckham and José Mourinho renew acquaintances with Manchester United FC and Chelsea FC respectively.
Beckham left Old Trafford for Real Madrid CF in 2003 and, now in his second loan spell at Milan from LA Galaxy, is relishing the opportunity to go back to Manchester – although, with the first leg at San Siro, he will have to wait a little longer. "Emotionally, it is going to be very difficult after seven years," Beckham said. "But I can't wait now. To be back in that stadium will be fantastic." The omens point to a happy return for the midfielder – the sides have met in four previous European Champion Clubs' Cup ties and Milan won them all, most recently the 2006/07 semi-finals.
Mourinho's FC Internazionale Milano side also have home advantage for their first leg against Chelsea – and, having lost in the first knockout round for the last three seasons, will be keen to make it count. Mourinho enjoyed a glittering three-year spell at Stamford Bridge, winning two Premier League titles before leaving in September 2007. The tie also represents a swift return to Milan for one of Mourinho's Chelsea successors Carlo Ancelotti, who had eight years in charge of Inter's city rivals and led them to three UEFA Champions League finals, including the victories of 2003 and 2007.
Real Madrid CF have not survived the first knockout round since 2003/04. To do so this season they must overcome Olympique Lyonnais for the first time, although Karim Benzema should provide plenty of inside knowledge having swapped the Stade de Gerland for the Santiago Bernabéu last summer. FC Porto and Arsenal FC are also familiar foes – their meeting will be their third in four seasons – while FC Bayern München were paired with ACF Fiorentina in the 2008/09 group stage and will be out to deny the in-form Italian team a sixth successive competition victory in the first leg in Bavaria.
FC Barcelona have already inflicted plenty of misery on Christian Gross with a 5-0 win at the VfB Stuttgart's coach's former club FC Basel 1893 last season – although Gross, who can call upon on-loan Barcelona midfielder Aleksandr Hleb, would prefer to remember Basel's 1-1 draw in the Camp Nou return. FC Girondins de Bordeaux will be favourites to overcome Olympiacos FC having dropped only two points in the group stage, while PFC CSKA Moskva take on a Sevilla FC side who saw off FC Lokomotiv Moskva and FC Zenit St. Petersburg en route to the first of their UEFA Cup triumphs in 2005/06.
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