All roads lead to Rome - at least for two lucky competitors. Join Goal.com for a look at the eventual draw for the Champions League quarter finals and beyond.
Quarter Finals (April 7-8, April 14-15, 2009)
1. Villarreal vs Arsenal
2. Manchester United vs Porto
3. Liverpool vs Chelsea
4. Barcelona vs Bayern
Semi Finals (April 28-29, May 5-6, 2009)
5. Winner of Match 2 vs Winner of Match 1
6. Winner of Match 4 vs Winner of Match 3
Final (May 27, 2009, Rome)
Winner of Match 6 vs Winner of Match 5
The UEFA Champions League quarter-final draw - covered LIVE on Goal.com - threw up four ties comprising the eight remaining clubs. We'll look at each in turn.
Villarreal VS Arsenal
The only time these two sides have ever met in competition was at such a dizzying height - for both clubs - in the form of the 2006 Champions League semi-final.
Villarreal were without doubt the overwhelming underdogs and that pressure proved to tell, when star player Juan Roman Riquelme had a chance to take the tie to extra time but had a poor late penalty saved by Jens Lehmann. Arsenal went on to lose the final to Barcelona.
Now, both teams have changed. Villarreal have continued their steady progression. Arsenal have completely removed themselves from the 'Invincibles' era and are a team that can perform from the sublime to the ridiculous. On the big stage, more often than not, they have come through this season. They are worthy favourites in what is sure to be a tight and tactical tie. The Gunners will win the day at the Emirates.
Manchester United VS Porto
And this, this is the mother of all rematches. We all know how Jose Mourinho hopped, skipped, jumped and slid down the Old Trafford touchline after his side snuck a late equaliser that put them through to the quarters at that time. They went on to win the competition.
Their performance and tactics against the Red Devils were lambasted and the English side bemoaned a wrongfully disallowed goal, but since, Mourinho has gone on to prove it was no fluke. Porto, meanwhile, have continued to dominate domestically but cannot make a dent on the continent.
United's progression since then has been outstanding. Now it is they who are the champions and they look to have the most well-rounded, united and best-drilled squad in Europe. Few would bet against them exorcising their demons.
Liverpool VS Chelsea
With United-Porto being the mother of all ties, this is the great, great, great, great grandfather: we cannot believe it's not dead yet. UEFA have yet again contrived to pair the two rigid English juggernauts in the Champions League for the fifth year in a row.
Liverpool have the edge. They won more convincingly to get to this stage, they've done the double over the Blues domestically this season and they've won more of the head-to-heads in this competition in the past five years.
What Chelsea have on their side is that they may actually be the underdogs this time - as they were under Avram Grant last year - which proved to be just what they needed to kill off their Red demons: to be written off beforehand.
This will not be a tie for spectacle. It never has been. Drama will be of the highest order in this all-English clash and the winner will fancy their chances of going all the way.
Barcelona VS Bayern Munich
This is the only tie of the round that doesn't have a recent history. You have to go back over 10 years to find their last meeting: in the Champions League group stage, with Bayern winning at Camp Nou.
Bayern have never lost to Barcelona in European competition, but times are changing. The Blaugrana are now a genuine European superpower while the Bavarian giants have, in recent years, slipped off the radar ever so slightly.
But now, they are back. What's more, they are joint-top scorers in the competition along with Barcelona. They recorded the biggest aggregate win in the competition's history in the last round against Sporting Lisbon. It may not have been the stiffest of opposition, but Bayern's ruthlessness was worthy of considerable admiration. They are exactly the type of team that could punish a slightly leaky Barca defence.
But then, who can mention this tie without remembering the Three Musketeers up front for Pep Guardiola's men.
Three of the best forwards in the world: the champion Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o in his prime and Lionel Messi, an all-time great in the making. Then there is Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Dani Alves and youngster Bojan Krkic. This is the only team outside of England to capture world imagination and they will be looking to prove why in this mammoth encounter.
The semi-finals look like they may put together another familiar tie or two, as well. The winners of United-Porto will play the winners of Villarreal-Arsenal, which, according to the bookies, would give us a United-Arsenal semi. The Gunners have the most recent bragging rights over their domestic rivals and they have had some classic encounters over the past decade.
Porto and Arsenal also met in the group stages of this competition and exchanged victories, while United and Villarreal have shared four goalless draws in their only meetings in competitive football - an outstanding statistic.
Then there is the international semi-final, which has no chance of being a tie all of one country. It will be either Barcelona or Bayern against Chelsea or Liverpool. If Barcelona go through, we're sure to get an emotional encounter against one of two English teams against whom they have recent history. A Barca-Chelsea clash in particular would evoke memories of the Frank Rijkaard-Ronaldinho Blaugrana that won the competition in 2006, while Liverpool in fact felled Barca in the following year in what was a huge upset.
Bayern, on the other hand, met Chelsea in a quarter-final full of goals from which the Blues emerged victorious, but have not met Liverpool in recent history. What we can be assured, though, is that if the Bavarians make it past the second-favourites, when coming up against either of these two English sides, they will put up one hell of a fight. Germans know how to win in a knockout scenario as well as anyone.
Then comes Rome, and the final. It's so near, yet so far. All eight clubs remaining have made their credentials clear so far, but there is room for just two. Who will it be?