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17 Dec 2010

Tottenham's Champions League adventure continues this morning when they learn their opponents in the last 16.

On their debut in Europe's most prestigious club competition, Harry Redknapp's men have already produced some jaw-dropping performances, which allowed them to top a group that contained holders Inter Milan.

It ensures Spurs will not face Spanish giants Barcelona or Real Madrid in the first knockout round, unlike north London rivals Arsenal, who could end up meeting one of the deadly duo.

Instead, Tottenham, who became the first side to score at least twice in all six group games, have French pair Lyon and Marseille, current Serie A leaders AC Milan, Roma and Valencia as potential foes.

However, it is FC Copenhagen that Spurs would prefer; the Danes also being opponents of choice for Chelsea and Manchester United, who are also seeded.

Arsenal are paying the price for blowing a perfect start to their Group H campaign, away defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga meaning they will have the disadvantage of playing the first leg at home, in addition to stronger opponents.

The dominance of English clubs in the competition means that aside from Barca and Real, the Gunners' only other potential opponents are last season's runners-up Bayern Munich and their Bundesliga counterparts Schalke, who would surely be Arsene Wenger's preference, even if he was giving little away.

"At the moment in the Spanish league, you have two teams who are so much above the rest that they do not have to give their full resources in every game," he said.

"In Germany they have to fight in every game."

There is also plenty of British representation in the Europa League, with Liverpool, Manchester City and Rangers all going into the hat for the last 32.

As with the Champions League, sides from the same country, or the same group, cannot be paired with each other.

Rangers could still find themselves pitched into a second Battle of Britain this season though, having failed to secure a top seeding - and a second leg at home - with their record in finishing third behind Manchester United and Valencia.

Liverpool and Manchester City would presumably both fancy their chances against the Scottish champions, knowing they could face each other in the last 16, the draw for which will also be made tomorrow.

It is Sevilla, victors in 2006 and 2007, who are probably the most dangerous non-seeds, although, if only on geographical grounds, Belarus' BATE Borisov and Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine, who made it through at the expense of Sampdoria, are teams to be avoided.


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