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Aug 27, 2009

Berbatov: Man United feared in Europe

Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov insists the rest of Europe will fear being pitted against the Red Devils when the draw for the group stage of the Champions League takes place in Monaco on Thursday afternoon.

United, who are among the top eight seeds along with Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, will avoid current European champions Barcelona but could face former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo following his £80m move to Real Madrid.

Madrid are one of the eight second-ranked clubs, but Berbatov believes United are the side nobody wants to draw.

"When you say the name Manchester United it inspires respect in a lot of people. Nobody will fancy playing us," Berbatov told the club's official website. The Bulgarian added that the taste of defeat to Barcelona in the European final in Rome earlier this year has intensified the United players' desire to go one better this time.

"After what happened in last year's final, I think we're even more determined in Europe this time around," he said. "For me, losing in Rome was doubly frustrating because I wasn't at the club when the team won in Moscow - I've never won the Champions League, so losing to Barcelona was very upsetting.

"This year our aim is to make it all the way to Madrid. The Bernabeu is one of the best stadiums in the world - and I know we're good enough to make it back there and, this time, win it."

There is also another intriguing possibility of Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea coming face to face with Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in a group - Inter will also be among the second seeds.

The draw will see 32 teams split into eight groups - each containing a top seed, a second seed, a third seed and a fourth seed.

Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Sevilla are other top seeds - and there are plenty of tough opponents in the other pots. Lyon, CSKA Moscow and Juventus are among the second seeds - while Atletico Madrid, Bordeaux and Stuttgart are in the third pot.

Rangers are also among the second seeds thanks to Fiorentina's away-goals triumph over Sporting Lisbon last night. If the result had been reversed, the Scottish champions would be third seeds.

The team to avoid among the eight clubs in the fourth pot are Wolfsburg, who were champions of Germany last season.

Big-spending Real Madrid are the bookies' favourites and will view this year's tournament as almost a must-win - because, apart from the arrival of Ronaldo, Kaka and Xavi Alonso, the final in May will be at their home ground the Bernabeu.

Seedings for the draw:

Top seeds: Barcelona (Spa) UEFA co-efficient 121.9, Chelsea (Eng) 118.9, Liverpool (Eng) 118.9, Man Utd (Eng) 111.9, AC Milan (Ita) 110.6, Arsenal (Eng) 106.9, Sevilla (Spa) 100.9, Bayern Munich (Ger) 98.3.

Second seeds: Lyon (Fra) 91.0, Inter Milan (Ita) 87.6, Real Madrid (Spa) 78.9, CSKA Moscow (Rus) 71.5, Porto (Por) 68.3, AZ Alkmaar (Hol) 64.8, Juventus (Ita) 63.5, Rangers (Sco) 56.6.

Third seeds: Olympiakos (Gre) 52.6, Marseille (Fra) 48.0, Dinamo Kiev (Ukr) 46.4, Stuttgart (Ger) 45.3, Fiorentina (Ita) 42.6, Atletico Madrid (Spa) 41.9, Bordeaux (Fra) 40.0, Besiktas (Tur) 32.4.

Fourth seeds: Wolfsburg (Ger) 21.3, Standard Liege (Bel) 21.1, Maccabi Haifa (Isr) 17.1, FC Zurich (Swi) 14.1, Rubin Kazan (Rus) 9.5, Unirea Urziceni (Rom) 8.8, APOEL Nicosia (Cyp) 4.0, Debreceni (Hun) 1.633.

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