Champions League Draw: Italy's Hopefuls In The Knockout Round

Goal.com looks at the Italian representatives in the Champions League draw...
It's been a double-edged sword for Serie A clubs in the Champions League. All three of them qualified for the Round of 16, but aso finished second in their groups and thus are all unseeded, throwing up potential for a number of mouth-watering but difficult draws.

Who will Milan, Roma and Inter face at the outset of the knockout stage? Will it be a comfortable tie or a dreaded clash that will have them worryingly biting their fingernails until late February. Goal.com looks at who they could draw on December 17.

Remember that teams that won their group are seeded for the next stage. It is a free draw with only two restrictions: clubs cannot face their group stage opponents; and clubs cannot be drawn against teams from the same country. Thus we list which teams any given club is eligible to face.


Milan
Unseeded
Can face: Tottenham, Schalke, Man United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk.

Milan had a bit of a strange group stage, actually only managing to beat one team in Auxerre (twice) on the way to the final 16. The matches against Real Madrid were a cause for concern, but since then coach Massimiliano Allegri has gone for a more balanced approach and seen success.

They finished a clear second best Group H behind the Spaniards and question marks over the side remain that can only be truly answered once the knockout stage begins.

Dream tie:
A surprise, but the Rossoneri would certainly fancy their chances against their old tactician Carlo Ancelotti, now at Chelsea, and it would no doubt be a kind of joyous reunion and celebration as well as a fascinating two-legged tie.

Nightmare: Full-backs are one of Milan's weak points and there is no one better than Tottenham at exploiting them, and they have been scoring for fun (18 goals in six group matches), with speedsters like Gareth Bale.

Roma
Unseeded
Can face:
Tottenham, Schalke, Man United, Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk

Roma started off with a 2-0 loss to Bayern Munich, and in their third match suffered a 3-1 loss to Basel that had them reeling. However, an impressive 3-2 comeback win against the Germans highlighted their determination that eventually took them through to the next stage as runners-up in Group E.

The Stadio Olimpico outfit have typically fallen short in Europe recently - is the year they make a deep run?

Dream tie:
The Giallorossi and Schalke both have been quite inconsistent in 2010-11, but  coach Claudio Ranieri once narrowly bested Felix Magath while in charge of Chelsea and would be confident of doing so again as he has a significant edge in both midfield and defence.

Nightmare:
All Roma fans will remember the 7-1 drubbing by Manchester United at Old Trafford, and they also beat them 3-0 on aggregate a few years back as well. They won't fancy a reunion with the Red Devils.

Inter
Unseeded
Can face:
Schalke, Man United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk

The European holders started off well, with seven points from their first three matches, but the wheels fell off due to injuries and poor form and they finished second in Group A as Spurs blew by them after defeating them 3-1 at White Hart Lane.

Coach Rafael Benitez is well-known as a successful manager on the continent, but he must begin proving his credentials or risk being sacked.

Dream tie:
Bayern Munich may have sailed through their group, but there are plenty of cracks that have surfaced domestically and they seem a relatively fragile force. Inter beat them soundly last season in the final and still have the advantage against them.

Nightmare:
Jose Mourinho led Inter to glory last season and a number of the Nerazzuri's players have openly shown their affection for him, thus Real Madrid in addition to being in very good form, would also create a media circus should they be drawn against Inter.

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