Beckham dreams of Old Trafford return
David Beckham is dreaming of a return to Old Trafford ahead of Friday’s draw for the knockout stages of the Champions League, which could see Manchester United paired with AC Milan.
Beckham is due to return to Milan in January for a second loan spell and, with United among the seeds for the draw in Switzerland, they are one of six teams the English champions could face in February.
Beckham left United for Real Madrid in 2003 and has not yet come up against the club where he made his name and with whom he collected a Champions League winners’ medal in 1999.
“I would love it if the draw pitted us against my former team, since I left in 2003 I’ve never returned to play at Old Trafford,” Beckham said.
“It’s been seven years and I want it to happen. Me against Manchester United would be great, wouldn’t it?
“It would be very difficult but also very exciting, I love the big games.”
Unlike Beckham Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is keeping his fingers crossed he doesn’t have to come up against Beckham’s temporary employer and his former one, AC Milan, the club he guided to two Champions League wins in 2003 and 2007.
“I admit that I would prefer to avoid a head-to-head with [Milan coach] Leonardo in February at Stamford Bridge,” Ancelotti told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“But if it happens, it’s no problem.
“Football puts you in this type of situation.
“It already happened to [former AC Milan star] Kaka, who faced AC Milan with Real Madrid in the group stages.”
The Italian added: “It’s obvious that if we get Milan the emotional aspect would be something special,” he said.
“Chelsea v Milan would be a very particular situation for the both of us.
“The only problem if we get Inter is that from a technical standpoint they are a great team.
“I believe that in the runners-up group they [Inter] are the best side.
“To eliminate Italian teams is going to be difficult.”
For the draw itself AC Milan, United and the other 14 teams are split into two pots—the first containing the eight group winners and the second the eight group runners-up.
The 16 teams are sorted by country and alphabetically, with each winner drawn against a runner-up.
No two teams from the same country can be drawn against each other in the first knockout stage, the geographical restriction being lifted from the quarterfinal stages onwards.
The teams concerned with this ruling are French duo Bordeaux and Lyon, and the Italian clubs AC Milan Fiorentina and Inter Milan.
Normally group winners—effectively the seeded teams like United and Chelsea—can expect a more favourable draw but neither side will relish coming up against the two Milans—AC having finished second in Group C (to Real Madrid) and Inter in Group F to (Barcelona) respectively.
Barcelona cannot come up against Inter again, as they were in the same first round group.
The first knockout round is scheduled to be held on February 16-17 and 23-25, with the return legs on March 9-10 and 16-17.
The quarterfinals are slated for March 30 and April 7, with the semifinals on April 20-28 and the final in Madrid on May 22.—Sapa-AFP