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Reactions to Champions League draw

posted 16 Mar 2012, 10:07 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 16 Mar 2012, 10:08 ]

Reactions - including words about Eric Abidal by Zinedine Zidane - to Champions League draw.

NYON, SWITZERLAND (MARCH 16, 2012)(REUTERS - Titleholders Barcelona will have to again face seven-times winners AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-finals after a draw on Friday (March 16) which also cleared the way for a final against their eternal rivals Real Madrid.

Rank outsiders APOEL Nicosia, taking Cypriot football into unchartered territory, were handed a glamorous last-eight tie against Real as they continued what chairman Phivos Erotokritou described as 'a dream'.

"We are proud first of all that we are playing with one of the best teams in the world. For us until now it was a fantastic trip, a dream, from now on we have nothing to lose only to gain. So we will try as we tried until now to enjoy the game and that's it," Erotokritou told Reuters TV after the draw.

Bayern Munich, whose 7-0 demolition of FC Basel in the last 16 made them another team to be feared, must overcome lone French side Olympique Marseille if they want to keep up their hopes of reaching the May 19 final in their own Allianz Arena.

Olympique Marseille's president, Vincent Labrune, told Reuters TV that his team were proud to have reached this level.

"It's been twenty years since we reached this stage of the competition. We work year after year and each season we make progress. We're going to see if we can take another step upwards but this time the step is quite big, so we'll cross our fingers", Labrune said.

The winner of that match would then have to face Real, assuming the Spaniards avoid an upset defeat by APOEL, in the semi-finals.

The winners of the Barcelona and Milan tie will take on Chelsea or Benfica, who were paired in the other two legged quarter-final to be played this month and next.

Barca and Milan have already met in the group stage this season with a 2-2 draw at Nou Camp followed by a 3-2 win for Barca at San Siro when both teams had already qualified for the knockout stages.

For Barcelona the match with Milan is difficult as the teams know each other well, as the club's Vice President Josep Maria Bartommeu I Floreta told Reuters TV

"It's a draw, it's a draw of course we already played with Milan during this year so this season. We know them very well, both teams we know each other very well, so it's going to be like a friendship match because we played but they're a very good team, they've played very good this season, so it's going to be a very difficult match," he said.

After the draw, former French soccer player Zinedine Zidane, who was accompanying the Real Madrid team, sent a special message to French player Eric Abidal who is to undergo a liver transplant.

"I know him very well, I've played a lot with him, I know he's going to get over it, of course it's a difficult fight, but he's going to get out of it strengthened, and the message I would like to send is to have courage, that's important, for him and his family," Zidane told Reuters TV.

Quarter-final first legs will be played March 27/28 with second legs April 3/4. Semi-final first legs will be played April 17/18 with second legs April 24/25.