Luck of draw fails both Arsenal and Chelsea but Manchester City will eye last-eight place

Former Italian international Javier Zanetti, ambassador for the UEFA Champions League final in Milan, shows the ticket of Arsenal's last-16 opponents Barcelona at the draw in UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland (Picture: Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP).
Former Italian international Javier Zanetti, ambassador for the UEFA Champions League final in Milan, shows the ticket of Arsenal's last-16 opponents Barcelona at the draw in UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland (Picture: Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP).
0
Have your say

Arsenal face the formidable challenge of holders Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Gunners, who memorably clinched a place in the knock-out stages with victory at Olympiacos last week, were handed arguably the toughest task when the draw for the next round was made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon.

Their Premier League rivals Chelsea were also handed a difficult assignment as they were paired with Paris St Germain for the third year in succession.

By contrast, Manchester City will be happier with their draw against Dynamo Kiev – but there was a notable downside for their supporters as the game in Ukraine must be played behind closed doors.

Kiev were were hit with a two-game stadium closure last month for the misbehaviour of their fans, which included racist chanting.

City are hoping to to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, having been knocked out by Barcelona in the last 16 for the past two seasons.

Arsenal this time face the mighty Catalans and they will need to overcome their own poor record against the side from the Nou Camp to progress.

Arsene Wenger’s men were well beaten by Barcelona, 6-3 and 5-2 on aggregate, in 2010 and 2011 respectively, while they also lost to them in the 2006 final in Paris.

Arsenal secretary David Miles said: “It’s not going to be easy and it’s the team that most Arsenal fans would have wanted to avoid at this stage, but it’s up to us to make a good fist of it.

“We’ve got our own world-class players and certainly we’ll go in for this.

“It should be two fantastic games and we’re very much looking forward to it.”

Barcelona said they are also expecting a difficult tie.

Technical secretary Robert Fernandez, currently in Japan for the Club World Cup, said: “It’s an open and difficult tie. They have a very good team, magnificent players and play good football. We’ll enjoy it.”

Chelsea know their opponents well, having beaten PSG en route to the 2014 semi-finals but lost to them in March in a last-16 tie overshadowed by a racist incident involving fans on the Paris Metro.

City will be pleased to have avoided PSG, who looked to be the most dangerous of those that qualified as group runners-up.

City, who won their group for the first time, last faced Kiev in the Europa League in 2011. That tie is best remembered for the involvement of Mario Balotelli, who suffered an allergic reaction to the grass in the first leg and was sent off in the second.

Kiev finished second to Chelsea in their group and are coached by former Tottenham striker Sergey Rebrov.

City director of football Txiki Begiristain said: “It’s going to be difficult for us, but the most important thing is that we show we’re improving in this competition and we’ll fight to get to the quarters.”

Rebrov said: “City are a solid and well-balanced team but we have already played against them and enjoyed success.

“Everyone has weak points. Our job is to find them.”