Barcelona and Arsenal to meet in last 16
NYON, Switzerland (Reuters) — Barcelona will play Arsenal in the last 16 of the Champions League, ten years after the sides faced each other in the final, following today's draw for the first knockout stage.
The Spanish league leaders, chasing a sixth title, won 2-1 in the 2006 final at the Stade de France and also triumphed in the knockout phase in 2010 and 2011.
Chelsea, who are enduring a torrid time in the Premier League, will face Paris Saint-Germain in the knockout stages for the third year in succession. The French champions, who are already 17 points clear in Ligue 1 this season, triumphed at the same stage last season, and Chelsea had the upper hand in the quarter-finals the previous year.
Another clash between two of Europe's inform teams sees Juventus and Bayern Munich face each other, while ten-times champions Real Madrid were drawn against Roma.
It is the game between Barcelona and Arsenal which most catches the eye, however.
“We are certain to see a sporting spectacular,” Albert Soler, the Barcelona director, said. “Arsenal and Barcelona have a similar style of play. The fans will enjoy themselves, we're two sides with a similar understanding of the game. They will be two great matches. We must have maximum respect for Arsenal.
“Barcelona are used to playing under pressure in every sense. But we are the reigning champions and that gives you an edge.”
David Miles, the Arsenal club secretary, said: “It is not easy and the one to avoid at this stage, but it is up to us and we will give them a game.
“[Lionel] Messi, Neymar, [Luis] Suárez, you could go on, but we have our own world class players and I am sure they will be fantastic games in London and in Barcelona.”
There is also a familiar feel about the Chelsea against PSG tie.
“You only know if it's a good draw after the tie. We are ambitious, we have 2½ months to prepare,” Olivier Létang, the PSG sports director, said.
Real Madrid and Roma have also seen a lot of each other in the competition, though not since 2008 when the Italians won 2-1 home and away in the last 16.
“You have to be very much on your guard. If we see ourselves as favourites things won't go well for us,” Emilio Butragueño, the Real director, said.
“We know what can happen if you have ten poor minutes on a European night.”
Juventus could come to regret having blown their finale in the group stage, leaving Manchester City, who will take on Dynamo Kiev, with the better draw on paper.
“Everybody wanted to avoid Barcelona and Bayern, so we are not so lucky, but Bayern will not be glad they drew Juve,” Pavel Nedved, the former Juventus midfielder, said.
PSV Eindhoven will take on Atlético Madrid, and Benfica will be against Zenit St Petersburg.
Gent, in their first participation in the competition, will take on Wolfsburg.
The first legs of the ties are spread over four days in February, with the returns on March 8, 9 and 15, when there are two matches.
Gent v Wolfsburg
Roma v Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v Chelsea
Arsenal v Barcelona
Juventus v Bayern Munich
PSV Eindhoven v Atlético Madrid
Benfica v Zenit St Petersburg
Dynamo Kiev v Manchester City
First legs on February 16, 17, 23 and 24. Return legs on March 8, 9, 15 and 16.
Valencia v Rapid Vienna
Fiorentina v Tottenham Hotspur
Borussia Dortmund v Porto
Fenerbahçe v Lokomotiv Moscow
Anderlecht v Olympiacos
Midtjylland v Manchester United
Augsburg v Liverpool
Sparta Prague v Krasnodar
Galatasaray v Lazio
Sion v Braga
Shakhtar Donetsk v Schalke
Marseilles v Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla v Molde
Sporting Lisbon v Bayer Leverkusen
Villarreal v Napoli
Saint Étienne v Basle
First legs on February 18. Return legs on February 25.