Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were drawn yesterday against Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City tackle Barcelona in two blockbuster Champions League last 16 ties.
Chelsea’s ‘reward’ for sailing into the knockout stages unbeaten was a testing match-up against the Qatari-backed French champions who they beat on away goals in last season’s quarter-finals.
Chelsea secretary David Barnard told Sky Sports News: “PSG are known to us as we played them in the quarters last year and they’ve got David Luiz playing for them too.
“It’s a good draw logistically too for our supporters.
“Both sides have very different squads from last year, so if it was PSG or anyone else, it would’ve been the same situation.”
PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi told AFP his club had to learn from last season’s meeting with the 2012 winners.
“Last year was an apprenticeship which must not be repeated.”
He added: “Chelsea are a good draw for us. I am very confident. I’ve got confidence in my manager and in my players that they’ll show on the pitch the best of PSG.”
Like PSG, English champions City will be out for revenge after being brushed aside 4-1 on aggregate by Barca at this stage in the 2013/2014 campaign.
City’s director of football, former Barcelona player Txiki Begiristain, said: “We have plenty of confidence with the way we qualified beating Bayern Munich at home and Roma away, so the players will be working hard to get fit and arrive in confidence for those games.
“We have improved our squad from last season and we have some real quality up front.”
Barcelona representative Andoni Zubizarreta said: “It is the same draw we had a year ago, it was a very difficult game and we are going to look forward to it.
“Manchester City have an outstanding squad with a very good coach, a very good team and are very competitive.”
The last 16 draw staged at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, gave holders Real Madrid a palatable pairing against German side Schalke 04, coached by Roberto Di Matteo, who was in charge of Chelsea when they were crowned kings of Europe.
Real met Schalke in last season’s last 16, easing through 9-2 on aggregate, en route to their tenth title.
“We have the utmost respect for Schalke, a club with whom we have a great relationship. They are very competitive, one lapse in concentration can take its toll,” said Real director Emilio Butragueno.
“The balls come out as they come out, of course, we are the outsiders, but there is always the old football saying; “form beats class”,” said Schalke board member Peter Peters optimistically.
Last year’s beaten finalists Atletico Madrid come up against Bayer Leverkusen.
Arsenal, finalists in 2006, face their coach Arsene Wenger’s old club Monaco, Italian champions Juventus will have to overcome Borussia Dortmund, and German giants Bayern Munich, who beat Borussia in the 2013 final, play Shakhtar Donetsk.
“Donetsk are the least known side in the last 16, so it won’t be so easy to prepare for this game,” said Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
“I think it’s goood to finally play someone different and not Arsenal again,” Dutch winger Arjen Robben added.
Arsenal are appearing in the knockout stages for the 17th successive season, and club secretary David Miles reflected on their favourable match-up.
“As the draw came out, it was evident a lot of the big teams had gone, so we’re pleased to have avoided them.
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