Champions League Last 16 Draw
Chelsea will face PSG in a repeat of last season’s quarter-final, where Chelsea struggled in the away leg, before winning the tie at Stamford Bridge. That time Mourinho was forced into going all-out-attack in the final stages of the return match and used three strikers simultaneously. This time, Chelsea have a little more quality, especially up front, and Diego Costa’s battle against ex-Chelsea centre-back David Luíz should be particularly interesting. For PSG to have a chance to go through a lot will depend on whether Ibrahimovic decides to perform like the world-class version of himself rather than the usual Champions League one.
Here is another repeat match from last season with Barcelona taking on Manchester City. The Catalans dominated possession at the Etihad but could not convert these chances until Martín Demichelis’s foul conceded a penalty, leaving City down to ten men. Barcelona won that challenge 4-1 on aggregate and few envisage things going differently this year, unless “il Kun” Aguero manages to recover in time in order to make the difference. Last year he only managed45 out of 180 minutes and with the kind of form he has been on recently things might just be different this time round.
Arsène Wenger and Arsenal, will be delighted to have been drawn against Monaco, who won Group C but weren’t particularly impressive at any stage and scored only five goals in the six games. Monaco have some good players, particularly the midfield trio of Jérémy Toulalan, Geoffrey Kondogbia and João Moutinho, and experienced striker Berbatov but Arsenal should progress with ease.
Another repeat from last season’s knockout stage will see Real Madrid face Schalke who they defeated 6-1 away, 3-1 in Madrid. Real are a terrifyingly complete side, boasting good ball retention in the centre of midfield, plus two of the world’s best counter-attacking players in Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Schalke’s Julian Draxler and Eric Choupo-Moting are dangerous on the break too, but this is so one-sided that only the margin of the Blancos’ victory is open for debate.
The Ukrainian champions Shaktar Donetsk were impressive in the group stage, but further progression will be difficult, as Bayern are just too good for them. Pep Guardiola will enjoy his tactical battle against the wily Mircea Lucescu, but even if Shakatar will attempt to play counter-attacking style of football in order to hit Bayern with their pace, it looks very unlikely that the German champions will face too much of a challenge.
Borussia Dortmund – Juventus is a very interesting match-up, even if the Germans are struggling badly in the Bundesliga this season. Jurgen Klopp’s side remain impressive in Europe, while Juventus three-time Serie A Champions, have been unable to reproduce those performances in the Champions League. Juventus’s defensive record this season is excellent, and they’ll be confident of shutting out a Dortmund side missing Robert Lewandowski. However, Juve often struggle in Europe against high-tempo, heavy pressing sides, and that’s precisely what Jürgen Klopp’s side are all about. This is a very open one, which can go either way.
Diego Simeone’s Atlético have not been on the form that saw them reach last seasons’ Champions League final and La Liga title victory but they still are a side to be reasoned with. Atlético sold striker Diego Costa to Chelsea but in Mario Mandzukic they have valid, albeit different, striking option and will present a different threat. Under Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen are similar to Atlético but their dynamism and intensity has often been spectacular. This clash should turn out to be a very energetic one and, even if only just, should see Leverkusen go through.
The least match will see two sides renowned for developing young talent, facing off. Porto lost for the first time in the league last Sunday, against rivals Benfica 2-0, but they are an impressive unit under Julen Lopetegui, who experienced great success with Spanish youth sides. Basel are the weakest side left in the competition, at least on paper and qualifying for this stage with a negative goal difference suggests they’ll struggle to progress any further.