Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Analysing the UEFA Champions League Draw for the Round of 16

The champions league trophy stands on the podium during the draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions league tournament at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on December 16, 2013
All four English clubs will hope to be playing in the Champions League final that is to be held in Lisbon in May.

First they will need to get through their round of 16 fixtures, here are the eight games to be played...

1. Manchester City vs Barcelona

  David Silva, Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero of Manchester City celebrate with Alvaro Negredo of Manchester City after he scored their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on December 14, 2013 in Manchester, England
Manuel Pellegrini's mix up now looks very frustrating indeed, with Manchester City being handed the hardest draw possible in Barcelona. The La Liga champions will travel to the Etihad Stadium first before hosting the Citizens at the Nou Camp a fortnight later.

Currently the in-form team of the Barclays Premier League, City's devastating home form will really be put to the test when they take on the likes of Xavi, Neymar and Leo Messi, who will be back from injury.

2. Olympiakos vs Manchester United

  Manchester United players take part in the minutes applause in remembrance of Nelson Mandela prior to kickoff during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on December 7, 2013 in Manchester, England
A typically generous fixture for the Red Devils, who were handed Olympiakos, arguably the weakest side left in the Champions League. They will have to be on their guard to stop the deadly Kostas Mitroglou, but David Moyes should feel confident of progressing through to the quarter finals.

Last time round, United exited at this stage after a controversial defeat to Real Madrid, but this season Moyes will hope to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson's fantastic record in this competition.

3. AC Milan vs Atletico Madrid

AC Milan's players celebrate at the end of the group H Champion's League football match AC Milan vs Ajax, on December 11, 2013 at San Siro Stadium in Milan
AC Milan just scrapped through to this stage, drawing at home to Ajax to progress from the group stages. They will be the underdogs against Atletico Madrid, who are equal on points with Barcelona at the top of the table.

The likes of Diego Costa and David Villa will arrive to the San Siro before hosting the Italian giants, who are languishing in the middle of the Serie A, two weeks later.

4. Bayer Leverkusen vs Paris Saint-Germain

=Paris Saint-Germain's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (R) celebrates with teammates after his team scored during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Sochaux at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on December 7, 2013
Paris Saint-Germain will be confident of overcoming Bayer Leverkusen to get to the quarter finals. The French side, who were defeated by Barcelona in the knockout stages last season, will face of against the in-form German side.

Leverkusen defeated Borussia Dortmund away last weekend to consolidate their position behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and they will fancy their chances against the star studded French club.

5. Galatasaray vs Chelsea

  Ramires of Chelsea celebrates scoring their second goal with Willian of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on December 14, 2013 in London, England
The big story behind this tie will be the return of Didier Drogba to Stamford Bridge. It's the second consecutive season that the Ivory Coast captain will face of against his former boss Jose Mourinho in the Champions League knockout, with the Turkish club losing to Real Madrid in the quarter finals last season.

Chelsea should defeat Galatasaray judged on their current crop of players, but the Turkish side's impressive defeat of Serie A leaders Juventus in the group stage will make this a tricky game for the Blues.

6. Schalke 04 vs Real Madrid

  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF celebrates with Marcelo after scoring Real's 2nd goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Valladolid CF at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on November 30, 2013 in Madrid, Spain
Champions League giants Real Madrid will face Schalke 04 in the first knockout round of the tournament this season. Los Blancos will head to Gelsenkirchen first before the Bundesliga club play at the Bernabau in the second leg.

The Schalke defence will need to be at the top of their game if they are to stop the world's two most expensive players, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, but Real Madrid will be strong favourites to progress.

7. Zenith St Petersburg vs Borussia Dortmund

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  Juergen Klopp the Dortmund manager celebrates victory with Kevin Grosskreutz of Dortmund after the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Borussia Dortmund and SSC Napoli at Signal Iduna Park on November 26, 2013 in Dortmund, Germany
Borussia Dortmund needed a 90th minute winner from Kevin Grosskeurtz to arrive to this stage, but they will feel lucky to have received Zenith St Petersburg as their next opponents in the Champions League.

A trip to Russia will be challenging, but Jurgen Klopp's side should beat Zenith to progress through. Despite a poor domestic campaign, Dortmund will still be hoping to reach the Champions League final for the second consecutive season.

8. Arsenal vs Bayern Munich

  Mesut Oezil of Arsenal celebrates his goal with Nacho Monreal of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Hull City at Emirates Stadium on December 4, 2013 in London, England
Along with Manchester City's clash with Barcelona, this is the tie of the round. The Premier League leaders take on the leaders of the German Bundesliga. Arsenal could not have asked for a harder opponent, with Pep Guardiola's side the most in-form team on the entire planet.

The Gunners have been in impressive form in the league, but facing Munich, for the second consecutive season at the knockout stages of this tournament, will be their biggest test yet.

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