Champions League: Sir Alex Ferguson admits Manchester United face 'difficult ties'

27 August 2009 07:59
The Premier League's four representatives - United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal - all avoided being paired with dangerous second seeds Real Madrid and Inter Milan in Thursday night's group stage draw in Monaco.

But with United facing round-trips of more than 3,000 miles to both Moscow and Istanbul for encounters with CSKA and Besiktas respectively, plus a double header against German champions Wolfsburg, Ferguson concedes that last season's beaten finalists have little room for error as they aim to reach a third successive Champions League final.

 Related Articles'Big Four' avoid RonaldoThe British challengePlatini gets tough on debtsChampions League draw: liveSport on televisionFerguson said: "These are difficult ties, especially the trips to Russia and Turkey. CSKA have developed strongly in the last few years and games in Turkey are always difficult.

"We also know the quality that we're up against with Wolfsburg with what they achieved in the Bundesliga last season."

United will return the scene of their 2008 Champions League final success when they face CSKA in the Luzhniki Stadium. The Premier League champions must also travel to Istanbul to face Besiktas in their hostile Inonu Stadium.

Liverpool have avoided the travelling difficulties facing United and manager Rafael Benitez admits that he is happy with a draw that paired his team with Lyon, Fiorentina and Hungarian champions Debreceni.

Benitez said: "Lyon might not have won the league last season but before that they won it many years in a row, so we know they have lots of good players who can play good football.

"Fiorentina are an historic club in a nice city with fantastic supporters and we have experience of Hungarian football because of our relationship with MTK, so if Debreceni have won their league then we know it means it's because they're a good side.

"The important thing as always is that the travelling isn't too bad. We don't have too far to go for any of the games."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has been spared a return to Milan to face Inter and Jose Mourinho, with the 2008 finalists being drawn against FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and Cypriot champions FC Apoel.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "There are no easy games or groups, but we have managed to avoid one of the big ones.

"We have played Porto twice, so we know them well. There isn't a lot of travel, though, so we have to be reasonably pleased with the draw."

With Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka being paired with AC Milan in Group C and champions Barcelona facing Inter Milan in Group F, the British contingent avoided the most difficult pairings.

And Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is likely to be delighted with a draw that sees his team face AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos and Standard Liege.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis said: "People might see it as a free pass for us but we don't see it that way at all. It will be very tough.

"It is good to have relatively short travel times, that's something that Arsene (Wenger) thinks about a lot."

Rangers will take on Sevilla, Stuttgart and Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni after avoided a Battle of Britain tie against Premier League opposition.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain said: "Playing English clubs always adds a bit of spice, but we are pleased with the draw we have.

"Sevilla have a great European pedigree and we know all about Stuttgart having played them before in the Champions League."


Source: Telegraph

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