Denis Doyle

UEFA Champions League draw, 2013 knockout stages: Real Madrid draw Manchester United

The Champions League produced one absolutely dream tie. Real Madrid's reward for finishing second in their group is a date with Manchester United.

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UEFA Champions League draw the same as rehearsal

By pure chance, a practice run for the Champions League knockout rounds draw held by UEFA officials Wednesday produced identical results to the actual draw Thursday.


Champions League Rd. of 16 schedule

Everything good has been split up, so you'll be able to watch all of the best Champions League games without issue.


Under the radar, but a promising tie

The first tie drawn will escape most media attention, but it shapes up nicely as a clash between two evenly matched teams


Malaga face Portugal in Iberian clash

Malaga are one of the lesser teams in the competition, but they'll have every chance of getting something against FC Porto.


Battle of the dark horses

The two biggest surprises of the group stages will go head to head in one of the better ties of the round


Celtic prepare to slay another giant in Juventus

Celtic don't have a chance against Juventus on paper. But that was also true when they played Barcelona in the group stages.


Zlatan needs to shake his bad reputation

Can Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally shake off the 'big game bottler' label?


Real Madrid vs. Manchester United: Ronaldo returns

It's surely the highlight of the round, and this is a fixture packed with great matchups, context, emotion, and best of all, it's almost impossible to pick a winner.


A tantalising Germany/England clash

The London club fall victim to another tough tie in the initial knock-out round of the premier continental competition


Do Milan stand a chance against Barca?

While Milan certainly have a chance to advance past Barcelona, it's tough to see it happening.


Champions League draw and extended previews

Manchester United vs. Real Madrid is the undoubted highlight of the draw, but there is further interest with Arsenal-Bayern Munich and Milan-Barcelona.


The Champions League draw - it begins!

And we're officially underway! This is the moment when I realise I could've set my alarm for much later than this because we've got so many formalities and other gumph to go through.

UPDATE: Full UEFA Champions League knockout stage draw results

In this case, however, one of the formalities is worth paying attention to: the ceremony takes a moment to wish all the best for Tito Vilanova, as the Barcelona boss is currently quite ill. Well said.

Now we're getting some fluff about congratulating the teams for getting here and how everybody dreams about winning the Champions League. If you want to find out who could draw who, have a look at our interactive guide here while you wait. Manchester United vs. Real Madrid, now that's a first-round tie.

The runners-up everyone will be looking to avoid, meanwhile, are here. There are some very interesting ties that could be thrown up this year - many of these will be anything but certain.


Song, Fabregas want Arsenal

Surprise! Ex-Arsenal and current Barcelona players Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song would like to face the Gunners in Champions League. The last time the two sides met, Arsenal pulled off a dramatic 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium with Song and Fabregas in the side, but ultimately fell to the Blaugrana at Camp Nou. The two players have since swapped Gunner stardom for substitute roles in Catalonia, but want to 'play against' their former side, in quotes, because they're hardly regular starters.

Said Fabregas, about the potential of the two sides playing in the Round of 16:

"[I would like us to play] Arsenal, for the affection and affinity I have with that club," he said. "I would be very excited to see the people with whom I lived for so many years. It would be a very special tie."

Alex Song echoed those sentiments.

"Of course I would like to play against Arsenal. For me to go back there, where I had seven magnificent years, would be something very special."

It's easy to hope something like this happens when you know your current side will be very heavy favorites to win.

Oh ... and when you know that your teammates, and not you, will ultimately be responsible for the inevitable victory.


No one wants to draw Real Madrid

The arrangement of this year's UEFA Champions League group stage set up a situation where, inevitably, the pool of runners-up was going to be strong for the knockout stage draw. Groups D and E were always going to be virtual groups of death, and were sure to produce top teams as runners-up. What no one knew at the beginning of the group stage is that Real Madrid might end up in second place, or that Arsenal and AC Milan wouldn't end up winning their groups.

In this edition of Champions League, the winners pot isn't necessarily stronger than the runners up pot. If half of the runners-up win their knockout stage matches, they might not pull them off in upsets. Out of the strong pool, here are the runners-up that group winners will want to avoid.

Real Madrid: This one is obvious, even if they've performed below expectations in both La Liga and the Champions League. Everyone expects Madrid to progress in Champions League, and they're likely to be favorites no matter who they draw. A Round of 16 tie against Manchester United would be a dream for neutrals, while a very athletic and tenacious Juventus side might present a very difficult matchup, but no one wants to draw Los Merengues.

Arsenal: They don't have a match winner like Robin van Persie anymore and they're struggling in the Premier League, but they still have plenty of talent and a very experienced manager. There might be more respect for their name than their actual squad at this point, but drawing Arsenal in Champions League always seems like a dangerous proposition.

FC Porto: This team is a potential nightmare, just because of their raw talent and their ability to score at any time. They can't consistently beat the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United, but there's no telling when James Rodriguez or Jackson Martinez is going to have the game of their lives. The Colombian duo is capable of scoring in bunches against anyone in the world.

Shakhtar Donetsk: Who watched their home win against Chelsea and wants to play them? Shakhtar can play at lightning speed, and are more athletic than the majority of remaining teams. Fernandinho's stamina is almost not human, and the Ukranian champions have turned down bids for Willian from big Premier League clubs. Their defense is shaky, but also extremely athletic and capable of dominating any team over a 180 minute stretch.


How to watch the Champions League draw

For some reason, UEFA hasn't figured out that they could probably sell the rights to their draws and make a good deal of money. It would be nice to assume that they don't feel like making money is necessary off their draws and that they would like to provide a free service to their fans out of the goodness of their hearts, but that wouldn't be in line with literally every other thing they've ever done. Let's call this a small oversight.

UPDATE: Full UEFA Champions League knockout stage draw results

The UEFA Champions League knockout stage draw is not on television, but it can be watched online at anywhere in the world. Starting at 5:30 a.m. ET, 10:30 a.m. in the U.K. and 11:30 a.m. local time in Switzerland, the draw will be conducted. Gianni Infantino will invite various famous footballers onto the stage as if they are more qualified to draw ping pong balls out of bowls than other people, and we will all watch on in amazement.


Champions League draw will turn out marquee match

When the runners-up pool looks as strong as the winners pool, the UEFA Champions League draw gets fun.

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