3 English teams face German opposition in Champions League
NYON, Switzerland (AP) — One of the fiercest international rivalries in soccer will play out three times in the last 16 of the Champions League when a trio of English teams take on German opposition.
"It was clear it would be difficult, they are obviously a top side," said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who lost the 2013 final to Bayern when coaching Dortmund. "For me it's nice, going to Germany."
"They're the team of the hour. They're the league leaders in England," Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said of Liverpool. "They play good football, they're very physical and they're full of energy.
The first leg is at Anfield on Feb. 19 with the return match in Munich on March 13.
The draw included nine former champions with a combined 40 of the 63 Champions League or European Cup titles since the competition began in 1955.
The potential first-time winners include Paris Saint-Germain, which will play Manchester United. The first leg is at Old Trafford on Feb. 12.
Man United's loss at Liverpool left it in a distant sixth place and playing the kind of soccer under manager Jose Mourinho that is almost unrecognizable from its traditionally fearless attacking style.
"We're obviously not playing well at the moment," former United player Denis Irwin said at UEFA headquarters after the draw. "But we have got some fantastic players and a coach who knows how to win, and knows how to win this competition."
Man City, also seeking its first title, arguably got the weakest opponent on current form. Schalke is in 13th place in the Bundesliga.
"I would like to play on Wednesday, but I can't, so we have to wait for February," Man City sporting director Txiki Begiristain said, noting Schalke has a three-week break coming up. "They have the time to rest. Let's see how they are in February, and how we are."
Months after leaving Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo will return to the Spanish city with Juventus for the first leg against Atletico. The final on June 1 will also be played at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.
The first legs will be played from Feb. 12-20, with the second legs scheduled between March 5-13.
Eight teams which placed third in their Champions League groups entered the Europa League draw.