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Champions League draw

Bayern set for big-name assignment

Bayern are almost certain to land one of the biggest clubs in European football when the draw for the Champions League first knockout round takes place at midday on 18 December at European governing body UEFA’s Swiss headquarters.

After finishing second in Group A, Louis van Gaal and his men will face one of the group winners in the last sixteen. That could mean a clash with one of last year’s finalists, Manchester United or holders Barcelona. Munich’s remaining potential opponents are Real Madrid, Sevilla, London pair Arsenal and Chelsea, and Serie A outfit Fiorentina. Girondins Bordeaux won Bayern’s group and cannot be drawn to face the Bavarians at this stage.

Van Gaal taking it as it comes

“We’ll be given a massive task,” acknowledged FCB chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Van Gaal declined to name a preferred team from the list offered: “Our potential opponents are all strong, but okay.”

Speaking on the eve of the draw, Bayern striker Mario Gomez named only one club he would prefer to avoid at this stage: “I wouldn’t necessarily want to face Barcelona, but otherwise I don’t have a preference,” he said. Barcelona’s current campaign was a simple continuation of last season’s, Gomez reasoned. “Man for man, they’re the strongest team in the world."

Gomez' strike partner Ivica Golic would also prefer not to meet Barcelona or Chelsea in in the first knockout round. “But they’re all strong potential opponents, big teams. Fiorentina is the only case where you might get away with saying they’re not a huge club," Olic commented.

Bayern will also be at home in the first leg on 16 or 17, or on 23 or 24 February 2010 at the Allianz Arena. The decisive return leg will be played on 9 or 10, or on 16 or 17 March.