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Round of 16 draw whets appetite for Wembley

Thursday 20 December 2012 11.39 CET
The 2013 Wembley final will have a special flavour associated with host city London

As the UEFA Champions League season moves into knockout mode, preparations are already under way to make May's final in London a truly spectacular occasion.

Congratulating the clubs who have reached the round of 16, at the draw at the House of European Football in Nyon, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said UEFA and the organisers would give the 25 May final at Wembley Stadium a unique flavour – a fitting celebration to mark the 150th birthday of The Football Association, the world's oldest national association.

"The first thing is to congratulate the 16 clubs who are here," Mr Infantino told the audience. "You represent nine different national associations and the lineup for the draw includes nine former champions of Europe.

"When you get into the knockout rounds it becomes even more legitimate to dream about being crowned kings of Europe. This season, the coronation will take place at Wembley Stadium and we are determined to make it an unforgettable event."

Certainly, all eyes will be turned on London in the late spring: the UEFA Champions League final will be preceded by the UEFA Women's Champions League final at Stamford Bridge on 23 May, with the European football family also convening in the UK capital on 24 May for the XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress.

"In a not-so-distant past," Mr Infantino continued, "the UEFA Champions League final was an event that flew into town and flew out again. But, in recent years, UEFA has been steadily working towards a greater symbiosis with the host city.

"Nobody needs to promote London even further as a tourist destination. It is already immensely popular. But we do want to give the final a special flavour associated with the host city. To combine the UEFA Champions League with London in a way that will help make the final a unique occasion that will live on in the memories of the fans and the players."

Mr Infantino also sent the best wishes of UEFA and the European football community to FC Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, who has undergone surgery after the relapse of a cancer in the salivary gland.

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