Champions League: Vieira to face Arsenal

Patrick Vieira is returning to play in London for the first time since Arsenal sold him to Juventus.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
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Patrick Vieira is returning to play in London for the first time since Arsenal sold him to Juventus. He may not recognize his old team on Tuesday at Highbury in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. Arsenal will field the youngest team left in the tournament when it faces the Italian champion. In Tuesday's other quarterfinal, Benfica hosts tournament favourite FC Barcelona. On Wednesday, Inter Milan welcomes Villarreal, and AC Milan visits Lyon. Besides being the youngest team left in the competition, the Gunners are also one of three teams in the final eight, which have yet to win Europe's top club prize. Villarreal and Lyon are the others. AC Milan has won the European Cup six times, while Juventus, Benfica and Inter have won twice, and Barcelona once. Since Vieira moved to Juventus for $24 million last summer, Spanish teenager Cesc Fabregas has taken over at midfield, and Thierry Henry has replaced Vieira as captain. Cramped by the financial restraints of building its new stadium - it opens next season - Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger has gone to youth. Vieira, however, has been struggling recently with a groin injury. Struggling with injuries While Arsenal is fighting to finish in the top four in England, Juventus is the runaway leader in the Serie A and on course for its 29th title. Arsenal's game at Portsmouth on Saturday was rained out, while Juventus drew 1-1 with AS Roma. Juventus will be without two key players - injured striker Alessandro del Piero and suspended midfielder Pavel Nedved. French defender Jonathan Zebina is also questionable. While dominating in Italy, Juventus has been less impressive in Europe. Spanish leader Barcelona will be the heavy favourite against Benfica, having boosted its chances by resting Ronaldinho and Deco in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Malaga. But Barcelona could have problems on defense with Carles Puyol suspended and Rafael Marquez, Edmilson and Argentina forward Lionel Messi injured. Barcelona won Europe's top title only once, in 1992. Benfica will be without suspended striker Nuno Gomes. Facing Villarreal, Inter Milan may bench slumping Brazilian striker Adriano, who has scored only three goals in three months. Villarreal, which is making its Champions League debut this season, should be lifted by the return of Argentina midfielder Juan Pablo Sorin, who has been out for a month with a calf injury. Villarreal will be without injured defender Javi Venta and forward Antonio Guayre. AC Milan is coming off a 3-1 victory over fourth-place Fiorentina and is unbeaten in 12 Serie A games. The club is fully healthy - including Brazilian Cafu, who's been out with a knee injury. Ancelotti can choose between high-scoring strikers Andriy Schevchenko, Alberto Gilardino and Filippo Inzaghi. Kaka, a playmaker, has nine goals. Lyon, which drew 1-1 on Saturday against Toulouse, is shooting for a record fifth straight French title. Coach Gerard Houllier welcomes back several key players from injury: Defenders Anthony Reveillere, Claudio Cacapa and Sylvain Monsoreau. Lyon will miss suspended midfielder Juninho. Dangerous on free kicks, he will play in the second leg. Lyon has reached the quarterfinals for the third straight season, but has never reached the last four. (AP)