Man United pray for repeat of 1999 epic

BERNE - Manchester United will be hoping to revisit 1999 rather than any of their other six meetings with Bayern Munich when they face the Bavarians in the Champions League today.

BERNE - Manchester United will be hoping to revisit 1999 rather than any of their other six meetings with Bayern Munich when they face the Bavarians in the Champions League today.

The 1999 clash, when the English side scored twice in the dying minutes for an epic 2-1 win, is one of two recent finals that will be relived in this week's quarterfinal first legs as Arsenal and Barcelona, who met in 2006, also face each other.

Jose Mourinho's South America-inspired Inter Milan host secretive Russians CSKA Moscow and the all-French tie between Olympique Lyon and Girondins Bordeaux completes an intriguing line-up in which six countries are represented for the first time since 1998-99.

Lyon knocked out former champions Real Madrid and Liverpool.

Though United's win over Barcelona at the Nou Camp 11 years ago is etched in history, their other results against Bayern make less impressive reading, with four draws and two defeats in six meetings, including four since 1999.

"The history of playing Bayern in past European ties tells you it's going to be very difficult for us," said United manager Alex Ferguson.

Bayern chairperson Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "Since the 1999 final, playing United has always been a big thrill. This duel has history so I'm looking forward to it."

While Ferguson is still at United, Felix Magath, Jupp Heynckes, Juergen Klinsmann and Louis van Gaal have all been in the hot seat at Bayern since 1999 and Ottmar Hitzfeld, his opposite number that night and now coach of Switzerland, also returned for a second stint.

Bayern could be without their best player after Dutch winger Arjen Robben pulled a calf muscle in their 2-1 defeat by VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.

Arsenal will have to find a way to stop the exuberant Lionel Messi if they are to eliminate Barcelona, who will be without the injured Andres Iniesta.

Arsenal could take lessons from Osasuna and Real Mallorca, who stopped the Argentine from scoring in the last week, though this did not prevent either side from losing to the Spanish champions.

Manager Arsene Wenger has ruled out a man-marking approach on Messi, who scored successive La Liga hat-tricks against Valencia and Real Zaragoza this month as well as masterminding the 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart in the previous round.

"Once you start to man-mark one, it can work but in exceptional teams you have two or three you have to man-mark and then you have to go to a system where you could create your own problems just by following somebody everywhere," Wenger told the club's website. - Reuters

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