Those who question the lustre of the UEFA Cup may be surprised to read the cast list for tonight's fourth-round action.
Seven former European champions are involved. SL Benfica and FC Internazionale meet in Lisbon in a repeat of the 1964/65 European Champion Clubs' Cup final, Liverpool FC face Olympique de Marseille at Anfield, and Celtic FC welcome FC Barcelona to Parkhead.
Celtic, of course, were last season's UEFA Cup runners-up and boast a remarkable home record of 73 matches unbeaten in all competitions stretching back to August 2001. However, they have only one fit striker in Henrik Larsson and face a resurgent Barcelona side who are on a nine-match winning run.
Barcelona are one of four Spanish sides whose ties will go ahead, in the wake of the bombings today in Madrid. A statement from UEFA read: "UEFA has today confirmed that all of the UEFA Cup fourth round first-leg matches scheduled for tonight will go ahead as planned."
Fellow Spaniards Valencia CF visit the competition's surprise package, Gençlerbirligi SK, seeking to avoid the fate of the Turkish side's previous scalps, Blackburn Rovers FC, Sporting Clube de Portugal and Parma AC. Valencia should have no fears about meeting Turkish opposition, however, after winning at Besiktas JK last week.
RCD Mallorca, meanwhile, travel to Newcastle United FC looking to maintain their 100 per cent record from away trips in this season's competition. The fourth Spanish side and UEFA Intertoto Cup winners, Villarreal CF, are at home to AS Roma. Fabio Capello's men have scored 14 goals in their last three Serie A games and, despite Francesco Totti's absence, Villarreal striker Sonny Anderson has predicted a "complicated" evening.
Three former winners
FC Girondins de Bordeaux, finalists in 1996, are at home to Club Brugge KV, while the night's remaining tie sees another past European Cup winner, PSV Eindhoven, take on AJ Auxerre in France. PSV are one of three sides left in the competition to have lifted the UEFA Cup before, together with Inter and Liverpool.
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