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‘A good draw for us’

Bayern paired with Lisbon giants Sporting

Bayern have been handed a tough but manageable task in the Champions League first knockout round after the German double winners were paired with Portuguese cracks Sporting Lisbon in Friday’s draw for the last sixteen. The first leg will be played at the José Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon on 25 February, with the return at the Allianz Arena in Munich on 10 March 2009.

“I think it’s a good draw for us, but I want to caution against underestimating this team,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge warned in an initial reaction. “I’d like us to lay the groundwork for success in Lisbon.“

The teams’ last meeting in Europe’s elite club competition came in the group phase two years ago. Bayern won 1-0 in the Portuguese capital, with a goalless draw at the Allianz Arena. Sporting currently lie fourth in their domestic league.

FCB avoid big names

Although the Portuguese runners-up and domestic Cup winners represent a significant hurdle for Bayern, the men from Munich were spared an even more daunting tie against the likes of Inter Milan, Chelsea or Real Madrid. “It could have been a lot harder for us,” Rummenigge acknowledged. The last sixteen draw has thrown up no fewer than three England v Italy clashes, including the meeting between holders Manchester United and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s Inter.

“We’ll take each round as it comes, but we’re aiming to make the quarter-finals at the very least,“ Rummenigge said, calling on the team to produce “a top performance. It would be fantastic if we could make it to the semi-finals again, but I’m not even dreaming of the final just yet.“ The last march in this season’s competition takes place on 27 May in Rome.

Champions League first knockout round draw in full:

Chelsea v Juventus
Villarreal v Panathinaikos
Sporting Lisbon v Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid v Porto
Olympique Lyon v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Liverpool
Arsenal v AS Roma
Inter Milan v Manchester United