The draw for the Champions League second round was made on Monday and it has thrown up some rather interesting ties.
Manchester City v Barcelona
Olympiakos v Manchester United
AC Milan v Atletico Madrid
Bayer Leverkusen v Paris St-Germain
Galatasaray v Chelsea
Schalke v Real Madrid
Zenit St Petersburg v Dortmund
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
With Arsenal and Manchester City finishing second in their group they were always going to be facing a difficult game in the knockout stage. Arsenal have been paired with the current holders of the competition Bayern Munich. Now managed by Pep Guardiola, they have had a superb start to the Bundesliga season. They have won 14 and drawn 2 of their 16 games so far. Arsenal will take hope from the fact City managed a 3-2 win at the Allianz Arena last week. It is still a very tough tie for them though, but a mouth-watering one for the neutrals.
Manchester City are in the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in their history. They will face Lionel Messi & co. A tie that the City fans will be relishing, they are now going to be lucky enough to see Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona grace the Etihad stadium in the last two seasons. Manuel Pellegrini's side are scoring for fun at the moment and will be confident they can put a few past Barca. Arsenal and City will certainly be the underdogs going into the games but I have a feeling they will be very close encounters. If they do fall at this hurdle though then they will be able to put their sole concentration in the league.
Chelsea's draw is one that a lot of fans, a lot of players and the manager will be looking forward to. They have been paired with Roberto Mancini's Galatasaray who knocked out Juventus in that farcial game last week. It will see club legend Didier Drogba return to Stamford Bridge, and Jose Mourinho was already saying last week he would love to see Drogba again. Galatasaray have a good squad and Mancini will know a lot about Chelsea, I still expect the Blues to progress though.
Manchester United probably couldn't have wished for a better draw. They will face Greek giants Olympiakos and will be thankful that the focus will be on the other English sides for this round. David Moyes has of course endured a bumpy start to the season, but the Champions League has been a highlight for them. They now look heavy favourites to progress through to the last eight. A encouraging year in this tournament could disguise a potential poor league position come May. In fact, winning the trophy could end up being their best chance of qualifying for the competition next year. A former Red Devil, Roy Carroll is currently on the books at Olympiakos, and United will also have to keep a close eye on Kostas Mitroglou who has scored 17 goals in 15 games this season.
image: © El Ronzo