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Arsenal-Barcelona Highlights Champions League Round of 16

(Manuel Blondeau/AOP Press/DPPI/Icon Sportswire)

The draw for the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League was held Monday morning and it provided us with a very juicy round. While many fans of the seeded teams will be happy and favor their team to progress, the draw ensured that there will be no easy roads to the quarterfinals, as well as plenty of storylines to keep track of.

Let’s take a look at some of the big match-ups.

 

Arsenal (ENG) vs. FC Barcelona (ESP) 

With Arsenal being the most high-profile club to finish second they were obviously going to be the team none of the seeded teams wanted to draw. That is unless you’re Barcelona.

The two teams last met in the 2011 competition. Arsenal earned a shocking home win in the first leg, taking a 2-1 advantage back with them to the Nou Camp. The second leg was a different story however as it was marred by a very controversial second yellow card that sent Arsenal forward Robin van Persie off.

However, that didn’t come until the second half and doesn’t change the fact that Arsenal’s strategy was to park the largest bus ever at the Nou Camp, going the full 90 minutes without recording a shot against the Catalans. Parking the bus and playing defensive football is not the M.O. of Arsenal and if Arsene Wenger decides to do it against Barcelona then we are all losers.

When Arsenal had their backs up against the wall in the group stage this year they took on Bayern Munich and attacked, resulting in a massive win that saved their Champions League campaign. Despite their inferiority complex, Arsenal have proven they can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. If they play that way against Barcelona, we’re all in for a treat.

 

Paris Saint Germain (FRA) vs. Chelsea (ENG)

These two teams played the most entertaining tie of last year’s round of 16. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg in France, Chelsea looked like they would be on their way to the quarterfinals after an 81st minute goal. But PSG would not be counted out, rallying twice to equalize in a thrilling 120-minute match that eventually saw PSG advance on away goals.

In further hindsight, this game is even more memorable as you can mark it as the beginning of the end of this Chelsea team. Chelsea dominated the first half of last season but started to slow down after the New Year. Following their elimination in the Champions League, Chelsea limped to the finish line of the Premier League. From this game on Chelsea looked beaten down and tired, a trait that has carried over to this season.

Chelsea’s horrendous domestic form pretty much ensures that the Blues will be making the Champions League a top priority, as winning the competition is likely the team’s only hope of getting back in it next season. This should ensure that we’re in for a great rematch.

 

Dynamo Kiev (UKR) vs. Manchester City (ENG) 

Manchester City must be thrilled that they weren’t drawn against Barcelona in the round of 16 for the third year in a row. Taking care of business and finishing first in their group was a good way of avoiding that. However taking on Kiev is no sure thing in trying to advance to their first quarterfinal ever.

City will be fully aware of this as the two sides met in the round of 16 of the 2012 Europa League. City learned first hand that year just how tough a February trip to Kiev is when they were handed a 2-0 loss and were subsequently eliminated. City will be out for revenge, but right now they have a lot of problems that need straightening out.

They have a few months to work out their problems, but if they can’t straighten out their defense and get their midfield in order, they could be looking at another round of 16 exit.

 

Juventus (ITA) vs. Bayern Munich (GER) 

Last year’s finalists take on one of the favorites of the competition. Bayern made it to the semi-finals of the competition last season before being eliminated by a red-hot Barcelona team. On the other side, Juventus pulled a shock upset of Real Madrid to rob us of the Barcelona-Real Madrid final we all wanted. The Italians got off to a slow start this season but have come on strong lately, which has not coincidentally coincided with summer signing Paulo Dybala turning it on recently.

The Germans will benefit from the winter break in Germany that spans most of January, ensuring they’ll be fresh for this tie. But as long as the Italians continue to be able to score, they have the defensive structure that could keep the Bavarians at bay and give us a very entertaining two legs.

 

Complete results of draw

KAA Gent (BEL) vs. VFL Wolfsburg (GER)
AS Roma (ITA) vs. Real Madrid (ESP)
Paris Saint German (FRA) vs. Chelsea (ENG)
Arsenal (ENG) vs. Barcelona (ESP)
Juventus (ITA) vs. Bayern Munich (GER)
PSV Eindhoven (NED) vs. Atletico Madrid (ESP)
SL Benfica (POR) vs. Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)
Dynamo Kiev (UKR) vs. Manchester City (ENG)

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