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Germany Once Again in England's Way

AP Photo

They can watch Thursday’s Champions League last-16 draw knowing they will not see action again until mid-January. By then Manchester United side will have played six times in a manic Christmas schedule.

In the Champions League stats since 1992 Manchester United head the list for most ranking points, most wins and most consecutive appearances (17). But while the great powers dominate this year’s draw as usual there are hints of a wider democracy with Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk and three group stage-winning Bundesliga clubs challenging the old order of England, Italy and Spain, where Tito Vilanova, the Barcelona coach, has been forced to stand down.

The jolt to Barcelona is less deserving of sympathy than the shock to Vilanova himself, and the news of his illness adds...

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