It’s Champions League draw day: a marvellous opportunity for hundreds of Uefa suits and assorted pals of Uefa suits to knuckle down to a substantial meal and slap one another on the back.
The quality of the meal is no doubt key, but the sideshow is the draw for the last eight, where for once there are no permutations. We can get anyone, as the convoluted Uefa system designed to give a leg-up to the teams who generate the most money (it’s officially called ‘Country Protection’) (I’ve woken up on the wrong side of my bed, can you tell) is now out the window.
Uefa rules state:
The quarter-finals are played on a home, away and international round basis, with the first legs on Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 April, the return matches the following week and a randomly-drawn third leg to be played in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou.
OK – they don’t quite, but wouldn’t it look stupid if they did?
And did you also know they make the draw for the semi-final at the same time? That’s one less slap-up lunch for the suits, I’m surprised they agreed to that.
Will we get the chance to avenge our final defeat of 2006 and see Thierry back at the Grove? Or our 2004 quarter-final defeat against the loveable Russians? Or will we, as my usually reliable gut informs me, simply get drawn against Man Utd?