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20.03.2009 Football News

European Champions League: Liverpool draws Chelsea


Liverpool and Chelsea will renew their Champions League rivalry after being drawn together in next month's Champions League quarter-finals.

It is the fifth successive year the two sides have met in Europe, with Chelsea triumphing in their semi-final in 2008.

Holders Manchester United take on FC Porto and Arsenal play Villarreal, with the winners meeting in the semi-finals.

Bayern Munich meet Barcelona in the other tie. The first legs are on 7/8 April, and the return on 14/15 April.

Liverpool's second leg will not be on 15 April as they asked Uefa to avoid that date because it is the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.

The semi-finals take place on 28/29 April and 5/6 May and the final will be played on Wednesday 27 May at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

It is the second successive year that four English teams are in the last eight of the competition.

Although they were beaten by Chelsea last year, Liverpool reached the 2005 and 2007 finals at the expense of the Blues.

As in 2008, the Reds must travel to Stamford Bridge for the second leg, but Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is confident his side can come out on top this time.

"Hopefully it won't make a difference to us that the second leg is away," Benitez told his club's website. "We have to think about the first game at Anfield with our fans behind us and look to get a positive result to take to Stamford Bridge."

Last season's first leg at Anfield ended in a 1-1 draw after John Arne Risse scored an own goal and Chelsea won the return 3-2 after extra-time.

"We need to make sure we don't make a mistake in the first leg like we did in last year's semi-final," added Benitez. "They will be two tough games but we are playing well and clearly we are confident we can win.

"Chelsea are a very good team. We know each other very well and this is an exciting draw.

"We knew it would be difficult to avoid an English team but we need to approach the two games with confidence. We've done the double over them this season in the league but clearly these two games in the quarter-finals will be different."

The draw is also a reunion of sorts for Porto and United. The Portuguese club beat United on their way to winning the tournament in 2004, when then Porto boss Jose Mourinho charged up the Old Trafford touchline in delight after a 90th-minute Costinha goal took the Portuguese side through.

And Arsenal's tie with Villarreal is a rematch of their 2006 semi-final, which the Gunners won 1-0 on aggregate.

United beat Chelsea on penalties in last year's final and the draw means another all-English final remains a possibility.

Reacting to match-up with Porto, Sir Alex Ferguson said: "This is a good draw for us. We've met Porto before and obviously we respect any Portuguese team.

"We have had a huge Portuguese influence in the club, firstly with Carlos Queiroz but now with Cristiano (Ronaldo) and Nani, so we understand Portuguese football."

United will play the second leg in Porto but Ferguson insists that should not be a problem.

"You sometimes wonder if being at home first is a good or a bad thing, but I think in this modern-day competition there is no indication of what is better," said the Scot.

"The only thing you hope is that you don't lose a goal in the home tie. We are happy with the draw and we are looking forward to the next round."

Villarreal v Arsenal
Manchester United v Porto
Liverpool v Chelsea
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
The first legs will be played on 7/8 April with the second legs on 14/15 April.

Manchester United or Porto v Villarreal or Arsenal
Barcelona v Bayern Munich or Liverpool v Chelsea
The first legs will be played on 28/29 April with the second legs on 5/6 May.