Champions League draw brings Mourinho, Beckham back home

Mourinho will be smiling when his Inter put one over on his old club in the CL 2nd round; photo by Steindy

Who said fixing the draw was a bad idea? I have no idea if UEFA followed FIFA’s lead and rigged their draw for the second round of the Champions League. But even if they didn’t, they couldn’t have planned two more mouthwatering ties than Inter v Chelsea and Milan v Man U. Jose Mourinho will leading his new club, Inter against his old club, Chelsea, in his first match back at Stamford Bridge since his departure two years ago. And David Beckham will also be making his debut as an Old Trafford visitor after never playing against his former side while at Madrid.

The returns will get the headlines, but these are two very tough second round games for all of these teams, with at least one genuine contender for the title guaranteed to bow out, throwing the competition open at a fairly early stage.

Both Beckham and Mourinho accomplished amazing things while at Man U and Chelse, have earned the devotion of the club’s fans, and almost certainly will be welcomed back with great support. Beckham won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups, and the European Cup in 11 seasons in Man U’s famous midfield along with Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, and Ryan Giggs.

Mourinho brought Chelsea their first Premier League title in 50 years and went on to defend that crown the next cmapaign before winning the FA Cup in what would be his final season. The Blues are now on their fourth manager since Mourinho left the club during the 2007-08 season. That manager, of course, is Carlo Ancelotti, who until last season was Inter’s cross-town rival AC Milan’s boss and is not necessarily on the best of terms with Mourinho.

These individual story lines will dominate the long buildup to the matches—the first leg won’t be until late February—but the matchup on the field will be just as interesting, especially as both Chelsea and Inter have been desperately seeking the Champions League title for years. It’s well known that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovitch wants this piece of silverware above all others. Inter brought in Mourinho because former manager Roberto Mancini failed to take the European trophy and was forced out despite three straight Serie A titles.

Neither United nor Milan are thought to be as strong as they have been in the past, but nor are they far removed from the title as Man U were defeated finalists last year after winning it in 2008, while Milan took it the year before.

The draw is a little unbalanced as two of these four teams will be out of the competition and out of Europe by March while the quarterfinals will have three of these six teams: Olympiakos, Bordeaux, CSKA Moscow, Sevilla, Bayern Munich, and Fiorentina.

Its hard to know two months in advance how the teams will be playing, but I’m going to put my money on Mourinho motivating his current players and getting the better of Chelsea, while Man U should get past Milan. Whatever happens, it will be fun to watch.


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