Contenders await Paris draw

Nine teams from six countries will be involved in Friday's UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw - the first to take place in the host city of the final.

With FC Internazionale Milano-AFC Ajax set to conclude next week, nine teams from six countries will be involved in Friday's draw for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals in Paris, with the ceremony beginning from 12.00CET.

Unsuccessful defence
Another first will see the new European Champion Clubs' Cup make its maiden public appearance at the traditional handover ceremony after Liverpool FC claimed the fifth model to be cast by defeating AC Milan in last season's Istanbul showpiece. The holders' exit at the hands of SL Benfica, however, means no side has successfully defended the UEFA Champions League since the competition was revamped for the 1992/93 campaign.

Seasoned campaigners
The Portuguese champions are in the last eight for the first time since 1994/95, while Villarreal CF are enjoying a magnificent run in what is their first term in club football's greatest tournament. AC Milan, Juventus and FC Barcelona are more seasoned contestants and Olympique Lyonnais have reached this stage for three successive years. Arsenal FC, conquerors of Real Madrid CF, are England's sole representatives.

Nine triumphs
The new trophy - engraved with the names of the 50 previous winners - will be presented by Madrid's Francisco 'Paco' Gento, a member of the first team to lift the European Cup. Madrid's 4-3 victory over Stade de Reims Champagne - also in Paris, at the Parc des Princes, in 1956 - was the first of the Spanish side's nine triumphs, with Gento featuring in six. The ceremony will take place in the Salle des Fêtes at the French capital's Hôtel de Ville.

Public display
Gento will be joined on stage by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard - two players who embrace the competition's half-century - before handing the new cup to UEFA Chief Executive Lars-Christer Olsson, who will in turn give it to the Lord Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, for safekeeping and public display until the final at the Stade de France on 17 May - maintaining a tradition dating back to the 1997 event in Munich.

No seeds
The draws for the quarter-finals and semi-finals will be made in the host city of a final for the first time. No teams will be seeded, and sides from the same country may play each other. Mr Olsson will be assisted by this year's UEFA Champions League final ambassador, Laurent Blanc, part of the France squad that lifted the 1998 FIFA World Cup at the Stade de France and triumphed at UEFA EURO 2000™.

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