Champions League newcomers City to face Barca

Manchester City drawn against Spanish giants Barcelona, as holders Bayern Munich to meet Arsenal again in the last 16.

Luis Figo holds up the name of Barcelona during the draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League [AFP]
Luis Figo holds up the name of Barcelona during the draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League [AFP]

Barcelona will face an on-form Manchester City and its strong contingent of Spanish internationals in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The four-time winners will first travel to Etihad Stadium, where Manchester United and Arsenal have already been defeated in the Premier League this season.

Another Spanish side, nine-time winners Real Madrid, will face Schalke, Manchester United have a favourable draw against Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund play Zenit St. Petersburg, AC Milan visit Atletico Madrid, and Paris Saint-Germain will meet Bayer Leverkusen next year.

“I think Barcelona will be very concerned that they have drawn us, said Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini, who spent the past nine seasons in the Spanish league. “They are not the team of two years ago.

Chelsea will have an emotional reunion with former striker Didier Drogba when it plays Galatasaray, and defending champions Bayern Munich are paired with Arsenal in the last 16 for the second consecutive year.

Both Manchester City and Arsenal have ended up with tough draws after finishing second in their Champions League groups.

Tough draw for teams

“No one of the (seeded teams) wanted to find Manchester City or Arsenal,” said former Barcelona playmaker Luis Figo, who helped conduct the draw. “It’s bad luck for Barcelona and Bayern Munich.”

Manchester City is the only newcomer to the knockout round of the Champions League and opens the program against Barcelona at home, where the team is scoring on average more than four goals a game.

“Pelligrini is a very, very good coach,  said Barcelona director Amador Bernabeu. “We know from his coaching in Spain that when we play him we have problems all the time.

Manchester City’s director of football is Txiki Begiristain, who joined the English club from Barcelona.

“If you want to be champions you need to beat the best ones,” Begiristain said. “We have to score in away games in the Champions League.

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho said last week that Drogba should return to Stamford Bridge. The Ivory Coast forward’s last kick as a Chelsea player was the penalty shootout winner in the 2012 final against Bayern.

The German champions have a re-match with Arsenal, which won 2-0 in Munich last season after Bayern had cruised to a 3-1 win in London.

“The toughest opponent we could get, Bayern defender Jerome Boateng said. “They are going to be highly motivated after last year.

Real seek 10th title

Real Madrid continues its quest for a record 10th European title with a relatively low-key pairing against Schalke.

“On paper, yes, but that is only theory, Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno said. “`Football is unpredictable. It’s a German team with a great mentality.

Dortmund, which lost to Bayern in last season’s final, got arguably the most unwanted trip – a February visit to Russia to play in almost certain below-freezing temperatures.

“It won’t be easy, Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said. But when I look at the teams the other German clubs have to play against, we got through OK.

Leverkusen will be at home first against big-spending PSG and its feared forward line of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani.

“You don’t have to be an expert to say we are the outsiders, said Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller, whose team lost 5-0 at home to Manchester United last month.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc said it “could have been worse,”‘ but then added: “If they are second to Bayern it means they are a talented team.

The first legs will be played Feb. 18-19 and 25-26, with the return matches scheduled for March 11-12 and 18-19.

Source : AP

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