Barcelona gets City in last 16 of Champions League
Barcelona will play Manchester City, a team that emulates its
values, in the second round of the Champions League.
The home-and-home matchup starts Feb. 18 with the four-time
champion traveling to England’s Etihad Stadium, where Manchester
United and Arsenal have lost in routs in the Premier League this
”I think Barcelona will be very concerned that they have drawn
us,” City coach Manuel Pellegrini, who spent the past nine seasons
in the Spanish league, said after Monday’s draw. ”They are not the
team of two years ago.”
Chelsea will have an emotional reunion with Didier Drogba, its
former star forward, when it plays Galatasaray. Defending champion
Bayern Munich was paired with Arsenal in the round of 16 for the
second straight year.
”I’m the luckiest man in this competition in both games I’ll be
playing home,” Drogba, who spent eight seasons at Stamford Bridge,
wrote on his Instagram account.
Both City and Arsenal ended up with tough draws after finishing
second in their Champions League groups.
”No one of the (seeded teams) wanted to find Man City or
Arsenal,” said former Barcelona playmaker Luis Figo, who helped
conduct the draw. ”It’s bad luck for Barcelona and Bayern
Nine-time champion Real Madrid faces Schalke, Manchester United
drew against Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund plays Zenit St.
Petersburg, AC Milan meets Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain
goes against Bayer Leverkusen.
The first legs will be played from Feb. 18-26, with the return
matches set for March 11-19.
Man City is the only newcomer to the Champions League knockout
rounds, and wasted an opportunity to be seeded when Pelligrini did
not realize that one more goal in its 3-2 win in Munich last week
would have won the group ahead of Bayern.
Manchester City’s director of football is Txiki Begiristain, who
joined the English club from Barcelona, and its roster includes
several players from Spain’s national team.
”If you want to be champions you need to beat the best ones,”
Begiristain said. ”We have to score in away games in the Champions
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho said last week that Drogba should
return to his former club. The Ivorian forward’s last kick as a
Chelsea player was the penalty shootout winner in the 2012 final
The German champions have a re-match with Arsenal, which won 2-0
in Munich last season after Bayern had cruised to a 3-1 win in
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola also renews rivalries after his
Barcelona team eliminated Arsenal in 2010 and `11.
”I know Arsene Wenger quite well, I know his players quite
well,” Guardiola said at the Club World Cup in Morocco. ”In the
draw, it was the most difficult team.”
Madrid continues its quest for a record 10th European title with
a relatively low-key pairing against Schalke.
”On paper, yes, but that is only theory,” Real Madrid director
Emilio Butragueno said. ”Football is unpredictable. It’s a German
team with a great mentality.”
Dortmund, which lost to Bayern in last season’s final, got
arguably the most unwanted trip – a Feb. 25 visit to Russia to play
Zenit in almost certain below-freezing temperatures.
”It won’t be easy,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim
Watzke said. ”But when I look at the teams the other German clubs
have to play against, we got through OK.”
Leverkusen will be at home first against big-spending PSG and
its forward line of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani.
”You don’t have to be an expert to say we are the outsiders,”
said Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller, whose team lost 5-0
at home to United last month.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc said it ”could have been worse,” but
then added: ”If they are second to Bayern it means they are a
AP Sports Writer Paul Logothetis in Agadir, Morocco, contributed
to this report.