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Bad Champions League Draw For Spain

Brutal Champions League draw for the three La Liga sides, as holders Real Madrid will continue their defence of the competition against PSG while Barcelona and Sevilla face English opposition.

Barca will face English champions Chelsea in the last 16 while Sevilla will face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in a clash between two sides to have shared the last four Europa League titles.

Zinedine Zidane’s side are arguably involved in the tie of the round against the Parisians, with the European champions coming up against a side which bolsters Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria.

Elsewhere in the draw, last year’s beaten finalists Juventus will face Tottenham Hotspur while Porto play Liverpool, Basel take on Manchester City, Besiktas were paired with Bayern Munich while Shakhtar Donestk were drawn with Roma.

The first legs will be played over the weeks 13-14 and 20-21 February, with the return legs on 6-7 and 13-14 March

Sevilla v Manchester United Preview

Sevilla

Group stage performance: The long-time kings of the Europa League reached the last 16 as the only side with a single-figure points score – nine from their six games. Coming back from 3-0 down at home to Liverpool to draw 3-3 was important.

Key man: Ever Banega. The summer signing from Inter Milan is the engine room of the Sevilla midfield, whether in an anchor role or in a more forward position. He ran the second half against Liverpool to devastating effect.

Champions League pedigree: Europa League winners in three straight seasons (2014, 15, 16), Sevilla are yet to really break ground at the top level, and have never made it beyond this stage. Leicester City beat them here last season.

Manchester United

Group stage performance: Mostly untroubled for Jose Mourinho’s troops, who won their opening four games in comfort. A slip in in Basle in game five meant they technically needed a point to win the group against CSKA Moscow in their final fixture – although in reality anything other than a six-goal defeat would have sufficed. They won 2-1.

Key man: Paul Pogba. While injuries and suspensions have stopped the £89million midfielder truly dominating as United would have hoped, we are finally starting to see signs of true class in his second season back at Old Trafford.

Champions League pedigree: Historically, among the very best. Since the competition was reorganised in 1992 United are the only English team to have won it twice, in 1999 and 2008. More recently, this is United’s first time in the knockout stages since 2014.

VERDICT: United will have to raise their game after sailing through the group, but should have enough to step up and see off Sevilla. Man United win.

Paris St Germain v Real Madrid Preview

PSG

Group stage performance: Frightening. A 3-1 defeat in their final Group B game against Bayern Munich could not dethrone them from first place, having previously beaten the Germans 3-0. In a pool also containing Celtic and Anderlecht, they scored 25 goals in six games – a competition record.

Key man: While PSG are packed with world class talent, there is no-one above Neymar. Whether his stay is long term remains to be seen, but he has had no issues settling in France, with six goals in this competition alone.

Champions League pedigree: It’s all about the future for PSG, their history in this cup is nothing special. They were knocked out in the quarter-finals four years in a row until last season – where they blew a 4-0 first leg lead over Barcelona in the last 16, going out 6-5 on aggregate after an astonishing return game at the Nou Camp.

Real Madrid

Group stage performance: The holders – and first ever team to win back to back Champions Leagues since the 1992 re-branding – never looked like going out, but once Spurs hit their stride it was second place for Real; and second place never goes down well at the Bernabeu.

Key man: Cristiano Ronaldo. With his five Ballon D’Ors and record number of Champions League goals, there remains no player for the big stage like CR7.

Champions League pedigree: Remember the days when Real went out in the round of 16 six seasons in a row (between 2005 and 2010), or their 12 year absence from the final until 2014? It’s easy to forget when a team wins Europe’s biggest honour three times in the past four seasons, and six times since 1992.

VERDICT: Unquestionably the tie of the round. If PSG finally handle the pressure they can progress – and Real will be the ultimate test. PSG win.

Chelsea v Barcelona

Chelsea

Group stage performance: It started like a dream for the Blues – a 6-0 battering of Qarabag and a hugely impressive 2-1 victory away to Atletico. However they were bested by Roma over two games, and fell into second on the final day with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge against the Spaniards.

Key man: Alvaro Morata. Chelsea have hardly noticed the absence and imminent departure of Diego Costa, with the former Juventus and Real Madrid striker settling quickly into English football.

Champions League pedigree: Became the first London team to win the competition when Didier Drogba rolled his penalty home to defeat Bayern Munich in a 2012 shoot-out. Also losing finalists – again via penalties – in 2008.

Barcelona

Group stage performance: Beating Juventus 3-0 in the opening game was the key, and set up a mostly serene passage through as group winners for Barca. Successive goalless draws away to Olympiacos and Juve were the most minor of hiccups.

Key man: Saying Lionel Messi is the key figure for Barca is very obvious – and his new contract at the club is huge cause for celebration – but Gerard Pique is almost of equal importance; they are not the same without him at the back.

Champions League pedigree: When three quarter final eliminations in the past four seasons is considered a blip, you know you have pedigree. Barca have won the Champions League four times – and the final version of the old European Cup in 1992.

VERDICT: A nightmare draw for Chelsea, as they face off for the first time since the 2012 semi-final. Barca must be backed for revenge. Barcelona win.

Champions League last-16 draw
13 Feb 2018: Juventus FC vs Tottenham Hotspur – Buy Champions League Tickets
13 Feb 2018:FC Basel vs Manchester City – Buy Champions League Tickets
14 Feb 2018: Real Madrid vs Paris Saint Germain – Buy Champions League Tickets
14 Feb 2018: FC Porto vs Liverpool – Buy Champions League Tickets
20 Feb 2018: Chelsea vs FC Barcelona – Buy Champions League Tickets
20 Feb 2018: Bayern Munich vs Besiktas JK – Buy Champions League Tickets
21 Feb 2018: Shakhtar Donetsk vs AS Roma – Buy Champions League Tickets
21 Feb 2018: Sevilla FC vs Manchester United – Buy Champions League Tickets
06 Mar 2018: Liverpool vs FC Porto – Buy Champions League Tickets
06 Mar 2018: Paris Saint Germain ( PSG ) vs Real Madrid – Buy Champions League Tickets
07 Mar 2018: Manchester City vs FC Basel – Buy Champions League Tickets
07 Mar 2018: Tottenham Hotspur vs Juventus FC – Buy Champions League Tickets
13 Mar 2018: AS Roma vs Shakhtar Donetsk – Buy Champions League Tickets
13 Mar 2018: Manchester United vs Sevilla FC – Buy Champions League Tickets
14 Mar 2018: FC Barcelona vs Chelsea – Buy Champions League Tickets
14 Mar 2018: Besiktas JK vs Bayern Munich – Buy Champions League Tickets

 

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