The Champions League draw, carried out at UEFA headquarters in Nyon has thrown some interesting fixtures, as always.
Here are the major talking points from the draw.
England’s coefficient gets no help from the draws
Arsenal face Barcelona while Chelsea go head to head against PSG. Both these English sides are the underdogs in the last 16 tie and it would be quite surprising for either to emerge on top. This certainly doesn’t bode well for the coefficient rankings, which makes the underwhelming Europa League extremely important for the Premier League sides.
Manchester City, meanwhile, have a real chance this time as they face Dynamo Kiev in the last 16. The England side have failed to dominate things in the competition in the last few years, often because they’ve faced tougher opponents in the final 16. They’ve been given an easy tie this time and Pellegrini must ensure City progress further. If they have a fit Aguero, there is no reason why they can’t.
Spain and Germany avoid each other
Continuing on the subject of UEFA coefficients, Spain and Germany currently lead the table, and maintain a firm grip on four Champions League spots. Spain have seven and Germany have six teams participating in both UEFA European competitions. However, all have managed to avoid each other in both the draws. It’s of course likely that the teams that progress could face each other in the next round but irrespective of that, the two countries look to be in a favorable position in the near future.
Chelsea vs PSG is becoming an annual affair
The two sides will be meeting in the knock-out stages for the third time in a row. With one win apiece till now, this should be a hard tie to predict. However, if Chelsea’s poor domestic form continues, PSG will be the overwhelming favorites. For those who don’t follow the Ligue 1, PSG have been in incredible touch and are yet to lose a league game. With the Parisians having dominated French football in the last couple of years, Laurent Blanc’s main focus is to win the Champions League trophy.
Arsenal to bow out early once again?
Things don’t go too well when it comes to Arsenal and the Champions League knockout stages. After all the hard work to narrowly manage to stay in the competition, the Gunners have drawn defending champions Barcelona in the last 16 stage. With their current injury crisis, and the mere fact that it’s this Barcelona side, makes it seem like it might be an extra two matches for the London team. The consolation point however is that Barcelona are trying to be the first team since 1990 to defend their Champions League title.
Paths paved for some surprising quarterfinalists
One of Gent or Wolfsburg will qualify for their first Champions League quarter-final. Irrespective of which team qualifies from Benfica vs Zenit and Dynamo vs Manchester City, it will make things interesting for the final eight. Suppose they draw each other in the quarter-finals, it will be even more exciting for that stage. The last few years have seen traditional names dominating the final stages of the competition. Perhaps the last surprise semi-finalist was Schalke in 2010-11. It will be nice to see a name outside the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid enter the final stage of the competition.