It seems like England can't get enough of the Italians.


Paolo Maldini and AC Milan will take on Arsenal in the second round of the Champions League. ((Getty Images))

A week after Fabio Capello became coach of England's national team, the two Milan clubs randomly drew English teams Friday in the second round of the Champions League.

Defending champion AC Milan will play Premier League leader Arsenal in European soccer's most prestigious competition, and Inter Milan will face Liverpool.

Nine-time European champion Real Madrid meets AS Roma in another matchup, while English champion Manchester United takes on six-time defending French titlist Lyon. Also, it's: FC Barcelona versus Celtic; Chelsea versus Olympiakos; Schalke versus FC Porto; and Fenerbahce versus Sevilla.

"It's Milan versus England," said AC Milan organizing director Umberto Gandini, whose team is chasing its eighth triumph in the competition.

"We've seen better draws. Certainly this was the most difficult of the teams we could have faced. We'll be playing as the reigning European and world champion and hopefully we can keep going."

The matchup is a surprisingly rare one bearing in mind the two teams play Champions League soccer year after year.

Milan and Arsenal have been matched together once before, in the two-leg 1995 Super Cup. The teams drew 0-0 at Highbury and Milan won 2-0 at San Siro.

"It's quite exciting," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "It's a big challenge. If you ask me if we have a chance to knock them out, I say yes. To win the Champions League you have to knock big teams out."

Five-time champion Liverpool has been in two of the last three finals, beating AC Milan on penalties in 2005 and losing to the same club 2-1 last season. Now it takes on the other Milan powerhouse, which is unbeaten in 16 games and leads the Serie A but hasn't won the European title since 1965.

"The history is in favour of Liverpool but our team has been in good form so I hope we will be in the right condition to win this match," said Inter chief executive Ernesto Paolillo, who hopes that experienced midfielders Dejan Stankovic, Patrick Vieira and Luis Figo will have recovered in time for the games. "We are a very strong unit."

With two English clubs headed for Milan for the second legs, UEFA has moved the Inter-Liverpool game to March 11 to prevent a security problem. Milan-Arsenal will be on March 5.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said he hopes to have a fully fit squad by the time his team goes to Lyon for the first leg.

Tough draw

"It's maybe the hardest of the five that we could have got," he said. "Hopefully by the time we get to the games we'll have the whole squad available and I can pick the team I want. And hopefully we'll have a very good chance. We can navigate this one and go on to bigger things."

Barcelona played Celtic four times in 2004. The Scottish team ousted Barcelona in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and, the following season, Barcelona won one group game and drew the other in the Champions League.

Although Real Madrid avoided both Liverpool and Arsenal, it felt the draw was still tough.

"We've drawn an Italian rival, a very uncomfortable one at that; we know all too well the potential with that type of football," Madrid sporting director Predrag Mijatovic said.

Clubs from the same country were kept apart in the draw, and so were teams who advanced to the knockout round from the same group.

The first leg of the second round takes place Feb. 19-20, with the return games March 4-5 — except Inter Milan-Liverpool on March 11. The final is on May 21 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.