Barca take on Chelsea, Juve clash with Spurs
BERLIN: Title-holders Real Madrid have been paired with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the last 16 of the Champions League drawn on Monday, while Chelsea meet Barcelona in the other tie of the round. Last season’s beaten finalists Juventus take on Tottenham Hotspur while Roma, the other Serie A side, were drawn away to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Basel meet Manchester City, Porto take on Liverpool and Sevilla play Manchester United in ties the Premier League sides will feel confident of winning.
And five-time champions Bayern Munich will also be happy to be second last out of the hat against Besiktas of Turkey.
The round of 16 first legs will be played on February 13/14 and February 20/21, with return matches on March 6/7 and 13/14. The final takes place in Kiev on May 26.
Real became the first club to retain the modern Champions Cup with their victory over Juventus in May but have been given a brutally difficult start to the knock-out stage of this campaign.
“It could have been the final for the strength of the two teams,”Real director Emilio Butragueno said. “We are both candidates for the title but one will not reach the quarterfinals.”
Unai Emery’s expensively assembled PSG contains the dream front line of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe supporting Neymar, the world’s most expensive player.
They racked up an unmatched 25 goals in winning Group B but did suffer a 3-1 reverse to Bayern Munich in the final match.
“I think it’s a good draw,” said Emery. “I believe we can compete with Real Madrid. To make something great in the Uefa Champions League, you need to beat the best teams. The last 16 is a good moment to play such teams.”
The Bundesliga record champions were made to wait to find out their opponents at the end of the draw with Besiktas or Barcelona being the last teams they could meet.
While due respect will be given to Besiktas, the first Turkish side to win their group, there will be relief to have avoided an early duel with Barcelona, who instead take on Chelsea.
“We know how strong Besiktas are,” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said. “We have followed them because they were in a group with Leipzig. This is a difficult task.”
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who led the team to the 2013 treble, warned their “best performance” would be needed to progress.
Londoners Chelsea eliminated Barca the 2012 semifinals en route to lifting the trophy but the Spaniards had the upper hand in a 2009 meeting – when they went on to win the tournament.
“If you want to win the thing, you have to beat everyone,” Barca director Guillermo Amor said. “It’s going to be a great knock-out tie. We’ll go into it with optimism, confidence and a huge desire to get through.”
Chelsea are one of a record five English sides in the last 16 and the only team to start their knock-out campaign at home.
“We must be ready to play at home,” coach Antonio Conte said. “(It is) impossible to see an advantage of playing at home first. Against Barca you have to be at 120 per cent.”
Spurs arguably have the hardest task against six-time reigning Italian champions Juventus but there is a clash of former winners when Porto meet Liverpool and Manchester United will not underestimate the pedigree of record Europa League winners Sevilla.
Manchester City are 11 points clear in the Premier League and considered one of the title favourites as manager Pep Guardiola looks to replicate his two wins with Barcelona. A trip to modest Swiss outfit Basel does not seem overly taxing given some of the other potential opponents available.
“We have to respect Basel and we have to be careful,” City director of football Txiki Begiristain said. “We need to be ready to play them and do our best because obviously we want to go as far as we can in this competition.”
The winner of Shakhtar Donetsk and Roma meanwhile is likely to be considered a favourable quarterfinal draw for the big guns who progress to the last eight. — dpa
Europa League last 32 draw
Borussia Dortmund (GER) v Atalanta (ITA)
Nice (FRA) v Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS)
FC Copenhagen (DEN) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Spartak Moscow (RUS) v Athletic Bilbao (ESP)
AEK Athens (GRE) v Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
Celtic (SCO) v Zenit St Petersburg (RUS)
Napoli (ITA) v RB Leipzig (GER)
Red Star Belgrade (SRB) v CSKA Moscow (RUS)
Lyon (FRA) v Villarreal (ESP)
Real Sociedad (ESP) v Salzburg (AUT)
Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v Viktoria Plzen (CZE)
Steaua Bucharest (ROM) v Lazio (ITA)
Ludogorets (BUL) v AC Milan (ITA)
Astana (KAZ) v Sporting Lisbon (POR)
Ostersund (SWE) v Arsenal (ENG)
Marseille (FRA) v Braga (POR)
Note: First leg to be played February 15. Second leg February 22; The seeded teams, listed second here, are at home in the second leg