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Friday, November 5, 1999 Published at 11:27 GMT


English sides face Italians again

The defending champions made sure against Strum Graz on Tuesday

Manchester United have been drawn with two conquerors of British teams in the second phase of the Champions League.

BBC Football Correspondent Mike Ingham: "A restrictive computerised draw smiled on Barcelona"
Fiorentina, the team which knocked out Arsenal, are in the same Group B as the defending champions, as are Valencia, who won home and away against Rangers.

French champions Bordeaux make up the four-team group.

[ image: Tore Andre Flo: Dutch, Italian and French trips for Chelsea]
Tore Andre Flo: Dutch, Italian and French trips for Chelsea
Meanwhile, after overcoming AC Milan, Chelsea face more Italian giants and must travel to Rome to play in-form Lazio.

Marseille of France and Dutch side Feyenoord are also in Chelsea's section, Group D.

The complex draw was designed to keep sides who had already played each other apart, as well as ensure that teams from the same country played on different evenings for the benefit of television coverage.

United will play on Tuesday evenings throughout the six-game league stage, with Chelsea performing on Wednesdays.

Barca favourites

Bookmakers Ladbrokes reflected United's tough opposition by lengthening their odds to retain the Champions League to 5-1.

Listen to the draw in full
Thay are now third favourites behind Barcelona and Lazio, and just ahead of Chelsea (8-1) in the list.

Despite the bookies' reaction, United secretary Ken Merrett described it as a very attractive draw.

"We don't have a long history with any of the clubs but we're certainly looking forward to going to Bordeaux, Valencia and Florence," he said.

"They're great places to go to and those of us who like the wine will be delighted to be going to Bordeaux!"

[ image: Fiorentina's Gabriel Batistuta is heading for Old Trafford]
Fiorentina's Gabriel Batistuta is heading for Old Trafford
The club from the south-west of France looked to Marseille for inspiration after the side from the country's south coast beat United 1-0 last week.

"Every draw at this stage of the competition is difficult," said Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud.

"Marseille proved that Manchester United are beatable. Maybe United will take more care against the French teams now but United are still a legendary side."

Fiorentina general manager Giancarlo Antognoni looked forward to a trip to Old Trafford after his side's Wembley triumph over Arsenal.

"Manchester United are the team to beat but we have to try and finish second; we have to beat Valencia and Bordeaux," he said.

"We always have good matches against English teams and we're looking forward to it."


Group A:

Sparta Prague
Hertha Berlin

Group B:

Manchester United

Group C:

Real Madrid
Bayern Munich
Dynamo Kiev

Group D:



Groups A and B to play Tuesdays
Groups C and D to play Wednesdays
Opening stage two games to be played 23 and 24 November.

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