Barca draw Man City in Champions League last 16
- Published: 16/12/2013 at 06:49 PM
- Online news:
Spanish giants Barcelona were handed the toughest possible draw Monday when they were paired with Manchester City in the plum tie of the last 16 of the Champions League.
Former Portugal international footballer and UEFA Champions League Final Ambassador Luis Figo holds up the name of Barcelona during the draw for the Champions League last 16 at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on December 16, 2013
Champions Bayern Munich were also given a hard draw as they plucked Arsenal for the second year in a row at this stage.
For the English pair, who both finished second in their groups, it was yet again a harsh lesson in the importance of winning the group.
Manchester United and Chelsea, both group winners, were given far more favourable draws against Olympiakos and Galatasaray respectively.
In fairness to Arsenal and City, they did have the toughest possible groups facing one each of last season's finalists.
City came within a single goal of pipping Bayern to top spot in their group when a 3-2 win in Munich was one goal short of what they needed to overhaul the Bavarians.
Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini told a press conference that Barca would be the more upset of the pair over the draw.
"I think Barcelona will be very concerned that they have drawn us. They are not the team of two years ago," he said.
But Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino insisted neither side would be delighted with the draw.
"City will not have wanted to play against Barcelona either," he said.
"They are scoring goals with ease so we are not going to discover them now. We want to play well in the tie and obviously win it."
Arsenal were within a couple of minutes of winning their group despite losing 2-0 at Napoli on the final match-day but Borussia Dortmund's late winner in Marseille allowed them to snatch top spot there.
Last season Arsenal drew Bayern in the last 16 and seemed to be as good as out when they lost the first leg 3-1 at the Emirates.
But they came within a whisker of making the quarter-finals when taking the second leg 2-0 at the Allianz Arena, going out only on away goals.
Arsenal have rarely had much luck in the knockout stage draws in recent years having been paired with AC Milan in 2012 and Barcelona in 2011.
In 2010, having beaten Porto in the last 16, they drew Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
Yet Bayern captain Philipp Lahm was quite glum over the draw.
"It was the hardest draw amongst the second-placed teams," he said. "Arsenal are certainly not a team you'd hope to face."
Olympiakos coach Michel did not sound confident of causing an upset against United.
"We like the idea of going to play at Old Trafford; it is a nice destination for our fans," he said.
"Manchester United is a major club. We are talking about a huge football organisation. They will be two tough matches."
French giants Paris Saint-Germain pulled Bayer Leverkusen while AC Milan will face Atletico Madrid.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc seemed quite satisfied, saying: "It could have been more difficult but all the matches are difficult.
"When you see the first match that was drawn (City-Barca), there are only huge teams."
Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller admitted they will be up against it against PSG.
"It's not just about stopping (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic," he said. "They have other great players like (Edinson) Cavani and (Ezequiel) Lavezzi, to name just two."
Milan's sporting director Umberto Gandini was cautiously optimistic.
"We're returning to Spain to face a team we're not used to playing, as opposed to Real Madrid or Barcelona who we know very well.
"Atletico are a very dangerous team going forward but it could have been a worse draw for us, that's for sure."
Last year's semi-finalists Real will play Schalke 04 and completing the draw Dortmund are up against Zenit St Petersburg.
Real director Emilio Butragueno was wary given that the Madrid giants were knocked out in the semi-finals by Bayern and Dortmund in the last two seasons.
"It is true that in theory there were stronger rivals, but that is only in theory," he said. "We know that we have always found it tough against German teams, it has been very difficult for us to win in Germany."
The first legs will be played over four separate match-days in February with the second legs taking place three weeks later.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency