Champions League draw: Manchester United to party like it's 1999 against Bayern Munich

19 March 2010 08:17
Manchester United face Bayern Munich and, if victorious, will play the winners of Lyon against Bordeaux. Suddenly the road to the final in Madrid on May 22 and the chance to contest this trophy for the third consecutive year has opened up for the Premier League champions.

United have managed to avoid Barcelona, the Jose Mourinho show that is Inter Milan and the domestic rivalry posed by Arsenal, which could have also provided a mentally-sapping distraction to the title race for both clubs.

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The immediate reaction to drawing Bayern Munich is to stir memories of the final 11 years ago, and that crazy comeback. And, again, United will hope to party like it's 1999.

"We have got a good chance," Ferguson said. "The history of playing Bayern in past European ties tells you it's going to be a very difficult tie for us. It'll be a fantastic atmosphere in both games.

"They have a great stadium and a good pitch and we're up against a good, experienced team."

David Gill, the United chief executive, was a little more revealing, acknowledging that "without doubt" it appeared to be a good route to the final for the club, who must expect a repeat of last year's final in Rome against Barca.

"We've got to be confident we can progress," Gill said. "The Bayern tie is very difficult but if we negotiate that successfully we've got a French team in the semis. So it's looking good."

For Bayern coach Louis van Gaal it was a "tough draw".

"They [United] are joint favourites with Barcelona," he said. "They're enjoying a very good phase at the moment and it'll be difficult to beat them.

"But English teams always play their own game, which is an advantage for us, as we otherwise always meet extremely defensive teams. It'll be a tremendous match for the crowd."

There is a quiet confidence from the Germans, echoed by club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, that United's more open style may be to their advantage.

"We'll have to go to our limits and very probably beyond if we're to get through," he said. "But English football suits us better than the Spanish game."

In seven meetings with United the Germans have lost only once, with four matches ending in draws. In 2001, Bayern gained a measure of revenge for their last-gasp defeat in 1999 by knocking Ferguson's side out at this stage of the competition en route to winning it for a fourth time.

Should United prevail against a side studded with talent but at times struggling to justify their billing the mere mention of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben should cause some apprehension they will face a French club.

It will either be Bordeaux, coached by United's former defender Laurent Blanc, whose team had the best form of any side in the group stages, beating Bayern twice, although they stuttered against Olympiacos in the last round, or Lyon, who disposed of Real Madrid and so certainly cannot be easily discounted.

There will be more encouragement for United in the timing of the ties, given they come either side of a crucial league match at home to Chelsea.

They face Bayern away on Tuesday, March 30, giving them time to recover for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off, and then have an extra day's preparation before the home time against the Germans on Wednesday, April 7. Ferguson could not have wished for a better timetable.

The going is certainly good for United.

Source: Telegraph