Manchester United have been drawn against Real Madrid in the stand-out tie of the Champions League last 16. Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford for the first time since his 2009 move from United to Madrid in a contest that also pits Sir Alex Ferguson against José Mourinho.
Britain's two other representatives, Arsenal and Celtic, have also been handed tough draws. Arsenal will face last season's beaten finalists Bayern Munich while Celtic take on the Italian champions Juventus as they look for a place in the quarter-finals for the first time.
In an incredible twist, the draw was an exact repeat of Wednesday's rehearsal, meaning the most eye-catching tie not involving British sides is that of Barcelona against Milan. The German champions Borussia Dortmund face Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia play Paris Saint-Germain, Porto meet Málaga and Galatasaray come up against Schalke.
Ronaldo scored 118 goals in 292 appearances during his six years at United, but it was the other Ronaldo – the Brazilian striker – who took the headlines when the clubs last faced each other in 2003, scoring a hat-trick at Old Trafford as Madrid reached the semi-finals 6-5 on aggregate. Ronaldo's last match for United was in the 2009 Champions League final defeat by Barcelona, after which he moved to Madrid for a world record £80m transfer fee.
The United defender Rio Ferdinand, who played in the tie nine years ago, reacted to the draw on Twitter, saying: "Oh yes, Madrid!! What a great couple a games that'll be!! @Cristiano see u soon bro!!"
Meanwhile, United's club secretary, John Alexander, hoped there was a lucky omen in the draw. "It's the tie that everyone wanted to see – but that nobody wanted to see, they wanted to save it for later in the competition," he said. "If history has anything in our favour our one [aggregate] victory over Real Madrid in this competition was in the year we won the final at Wembley [in 1968]." The 2013 final takes place at the new Wembley on Saturday 25 May.
United have a slight advantage over Madrid in that as group winners they will get to play the second leg at home. Arsenal and Celtic, who were runners-up in their respective groups, will both play their second legs away.
Neil Lennon described Celtic's draw against Juventus as "a beauty" but also acknowledged the challenge of facing the Serie A leaders. The manager said: "Juventus are one of the great traditional European teams. So in terms of glamour it's great, in terms of qualification it is going to be very tough.
"We will take it as it comes, we're looking forward to the games now and I'm sure our supporters will be as well. We believe over two games anything is possible. Juventus are littered with world-class stars and have been very consistent over the last 18 months and have got a great winning mentality, but so have we."
The Bayern chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, was optimistic about his side's chances against Arsenal. "I think we enter this match as the slight favourites, but we can be making the mistake of underestimating them," he said.
"Arsenal have struggled at times in the league over the last few months, but by no means will this be an easy game for us. I wouldn't call this a lucky draw, but one that we can overcome. I look forward to seeing my old friend Arsène Wenger and I hope that we can reach the next round."
United will play the first leg at the Bernabéu on 13 February with the return at Old Trafford on 5 March. Celtic host Juventus on 12 February and travel to Turin on 6 March. Arsenal will play a week later with the first leg at the Emirates on 19 February and the second at the Allianz Arena on 13 March.
Real Madrid v Manchester United
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Celtic v Juventus
Milan v Barcelona
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
Valencia v Paris Saint-Germain
Galatasaray v Schalke
Porto v Málaga
First legs to be played 12/13/19/20 February 2013
Second legs to be played 5/6/12/13 March 2013