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A mixed Champions League draw for English clubs

Jose Mourinho and Didier Drogba will be reunited in the last 16 of the Champions League as Chelsea face Galatasaray

Jose Mourinho and Didier Drogba will be reunited in the last 16 of the Champions League as Chelsea face Galatasaray

The four English clubs left in the Champions League were handed a mixed bag of fixtures in the last 16 of the competition.

Arsenal were handed possibly the toughest draw of the lot as the Gunners drew European champions Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, Manchester City got drawn with four times winners Barcelona.

Manchester United were drawn against Greek side Olympiakos and Chelsea were handed a reunion with former-star Didier Drogba, as the Blues were drawn against Turkish champions Galatasaray.

Tough

Arsenal have paid the price for not winning their group by drawing German and European champions Bayern Munich in the knockout stages of the competition. The Bavarians are rated as one of the strongest teams in recent Champions League history.

Bayern are again leading the chase for the Bundesliga title and won five out of their six group games in the group stage. The German champions lost concentration in the last group game against Manchester City and lost 3-2 in the Allianz Arena.

There is cause for optimism though for the Gunners. Although Bayern knocked the Gunners out of the competition at the same stage last season, Arsene Wenger’s men defeated the Bavarians 2-0 at the Allianz Arena in the second leg, only going out of the competition on the away goal rule.

The manner in which Arsenal have performed for much of the season suggests that they will be no pushovers for the German side though, despite Bayern being heavy favourites to progress at odds of 1/5.

Manchester City have drawn Spanish giants Barcelona. City finished their group with that 3-2 victory in Munich and will be confident of knocking out Lionel Messi and et al. Barcelona are once again sitting top of La Liga, but new boss Gerardo Martino has come in for criticism for the teams style of play.

Barcelona’s weaknesses were also ruthlessly exposed by Bayern Munich last season in the semi-finals, as the Bavarians defeated Barca 7-0 on aggregate on the way to claiming the trophy. Previously Barcelona were the template for teams looking to dominate European football, but their star has fallen slightly in the last few seasons.

Manchester City have already proved this season that they can compete with the best of European football. The Citizens came back from two goals down in Munich with an under-strength team to win 3-2. A big achievement for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Interesting

Chelsea’s last 16 tie sees the Blues face Turkish champions Galatasaray and former-hero Didier Drogba. The Ivory Coast international scored the winning penalty in Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League victory with the last kick off of his Chelsea career.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho revealed before the draw that he would like the Blues to draw the Turkish side and a reunion with Drogba. The Portuguese boss has got his wish and will no doubt hope that Drogba does not come back to haunt him.

Galatasaray may well have been easy prey in the seasons gone by, but this season they have more quality and guile within their ranks. The Turkish champions finished above Italian champions Juventus in Group B.

As well as Drogba, Gala have the likes of Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder and Turkish international striker Burak Yilmaz, who scored eight goals in nine games last season in the Champions League. The striker has not yet registered a goal in Europe this season, but has seven goals in 14 appearances in the Turkish Super Lig.

Chelsea should still have enough quality to progress past Roberto Mancini’s men, but the tie against Galatasaray is definitely something of a banana skin for Jose Mourinho’s team. I am sure that Drogba is relishing the opportunity to return to the bridge to face his old team and boss.

Comfortable

Manchester United seem to have the easiest draw from of the four English sides, as they face Olympiakos. The Greek side finished second in Group C behind big spending French outfit PSG. I am sure United boss David Moyes will have been happy with drawing the Greek side.

The Greek side are regarded as rank outsiders to win the trophy. However, at this stage of the competition no ties are easy, but if United fail to get to the last eight then everybody connected with the club will be very disappointed.

Favourites

All four English sides still have a chance of claiming the trophy. However some teams have trickier ties than others. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona remain the three favourites for the competition.

The draw may not have made it easy for some of the English clubs, but what it has done is supply the neutral with some excellent ties to look forward to and who knows maybe an English team will prevail in May.

How many English teams will make it to the last eight of the Champions League?

Tue 17 December, 2013
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