Barcelona face Arsenal; Chelsea play PSG again in Champions League
Five-time title-holders Bayern Munich will travel away first against 2015 runners-up Juventus and record 10-time champions Real Madrid take on Roma
Lionel Messi’s Barcelona will go up against English Premier League leaders Arsenal in the Champions League last 16 after they were thrown together in Monday’s draw.
French heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain were drawn against 2012 winners Chelsea for the third straight season, while Bayern Munich will meet last year’s finalists Juventus.
The draw also saw record 10-time winners Real Madrid matched up against Roma, while Manchester City will meet Ukrainians Dynamo Kiev for a place in the quarter-finals.
Messi scored four times in a 4-1 drubbing of Arsenal in a 2010 Champions League quarter-final and Barcelona will again start the tie against Arsene Wenger’s side as favourites.
But Barcelona director Albert Soler said the title-holders had plenty of respect for the Gunners, who the Spaniards also beat 2-1 in the 2006 Champions League final in Paris.
“As always, we have respect for the opponent. Arsenal are a great team and I am sure we will have difficulties against them,” Soler told BeIn Sports Spain.
PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi saw the French outfit extend their unbeaten start to the domestic season with a crushing 5-1 victory over Lyon on Sunday, but knows a stern test lays ahead – starting with Chelsea – on the club’s path to their ultimate goal of European glory.
“As I’ve already said, we must be able to win against any team and go as far as possible in this competition,” said Khelaifi.
Bayern captain Philipp Lahm admitted the Bundesliga leaders had stumbled upon a tricky last-16 opponent in Juve but remained confident of progressing.
“It’s a European classic. Juve were runners-up last season which represents a major challenge, but we want to reach the quarters and will do everything we can.”
Former Juve star Pavel Nedved, who helped them reach the 2003 final where they lost to AC Milan on penalties, also tried to stay optimistic despite landing one of the tournament favourites.
“We were in a very complicated group and we did very well to come through it without too much difficulty. It goes without saying we’ll continue to battle during the last 16,” said Juve vice-president Nedved.
Meanwhile, ex-Real Madrid and Spain striker Emilio Butragueno, now a club director with the La Liga giants, admitted the draw could have been worse for Rafael Benitez’s side.
“We could have got more difficult opponents, but also easier opponents. Roma are a competitive team with internationally recognised players,” said Butragueno.
Manchester City, who pipped Juve to top spot in group D on the final day, will travel to Kiev for their first leg which is to be played behind closed doors at the Olympic Stadium after Dynamo were punished by Uefa for their fans’ racist behaviour during a game against Chelsea in October.
“It’s never easy – they’ve shown they have a good side by beating and drawing with Chelsea,” warned City director of football Txiki Begiristain.
“It’s going to be difficult for us but the most important thing is that we show we’re improving in this competition and we’ll fight to get to the quarters,” he added.
The rest of the ties, which see all eight group winners at home in the second legs, feature two-time runners-up Atletico Madrid taking on 1988 champions PSV Eindhoven with twice former winners Benfica up against Zenit St Petersburg.
Wolfsburg, who dumped out Manchester United to reach the knockout phase for the first time, will meet competition debutants Gent.
The first legs will be played on February 16-17 and 23-24 with the return matches scheduled to take place on March 8-9 and 15-16.