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from Left field:

And Porto will play…..Europa League draw provides some stardust

There was the usual hushed silence and then sudden intake of breath heard in Nyon on Friday, though not for the Champions League Round of 16 draw but the first two ties of the Europa League Round of 32.

Holders Porto will play mega-rich Manchester City, they were the first two names out of the little plastic balls when UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino was finally able to open the second after Davor Suker had tried and failed, and Ajax Amsterdam will take on Manchester United.

So what about the Champions League draw? Well, here it is in full:

Olympique Lyon v APOEL Nicosia

Napoli v Chelsea

AC Milan v Arsenal

Basel v Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona

CSKA Moscow v Real Madrid

Zenit St Petersburg v Benfica

Olympique Marseille v Inter Milan

Some first legs will be played on Valentine’s Day, so gentlemen start making your excuses. Mind you, AC Milan v Arsenal, Napoli v Chelsea, Olympique Marseille v Inter Milan and Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona aside, the above matches are by no means the most mouthwatering.

What do you make of the two draws? And do you think Manchester’s two powerhouses will field strong teams come February next year when they begin their Europa League quests?

Soccer Break Friday – R.I.P FA Cup?

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When I was in a French campsite in the 1990s a Dutchman caught wind of the fact I was English and immediately asked “Do you know the scores in the FA Cup semi-finals?”

Ask most football fans about what day in the season they looked forward to the most in the past and the FA Cup would have often topped the list, but the grand old competition is on the wane.

Soccer Break Thursday

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/So Real Madrid finally broke their last 16 jinx and made the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2004 with a solid home performance against Olympique Lyon. Can’t imagine anyone left in the draw would like to face Jose Mourinho’s men when the last eight and semi-final draws are announced on Friday.

Which team would you want? Managerless Schalke 04? Real are divided on that given they would then face former striker Raul. Or Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk? Tottenham Hotspur would appear to be another one of the weaker teams left but at this stage of the competition any side is a threat.

Soccer Break Thursday

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Breathe in. Breathe out. The Champions League is over for this week after a tense two days of last 16 drama. And now for Europa League action on Thursday with yet more top sides in action.

First of all however let’s dissect the Champions League from Wednesday where underdogs Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 progressed past their more fancied rivals, AC Milan and Valencia respectively.

Champions League podcast – 4

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Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Martyn Herman for a look at the week’s Champions League matches. Will Real Madrid be too much for AC Milan? Our panel seems to think so.

Listen!

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