Arsenal get Bayern again, Barca meet PSG
Pogbas to clash as Man Utd draw Saint-Etienne
Arsenal were once again drawn against Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League yesterday, while Barcelona will also come up against familiar foes in the shape of Paris Saint-Germain. Arsene Wenger’s side had hoped winning their group for the first time in five years would spare them a tie against one of the continent’s giants in the first knockout round, but instead they must face Carlo Ancelotti’s German champions, who came second in their section, with the first leg in Bavaria.
Bayern eliminated Arsenal en route to winning the trophy in 2012/13 and repeated the feat a year later, while the teams also met in the group stage last season-the Gunners won 2-0 in London but then lost 5-1 at the Allianz Arena. PSG came second to Arsenal in Group A, leaving them more vulnerable to a tough draw and five-time winners Barcelona have eliminated the French club in the quarter-finals in two of the past four seasons, while the teams also met in the group stage in 2014/15. Recent history favors the Catalans, and so does current form, with Unai Emery’s side having squandered the chance to top their group by drawing at home to Ludogorets of Bulgaria last week.
Reigning European champions Real Madrid will face Napoli as they look to win the trophy for a record 12th time, while Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City face a testing two-legged encounter against Monaco. City, currently struggling for form, cannot afford to take the principality side lightly-they are the most prolific side in Europe’s leading leagues this season and have beaten Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League in the past two years.
Premier League champions Leicester City will take on last season’s Europa League winners Sevilla as a reward for topping their group in their debut appearance in the competition, with a visit to the Sanchez Pizjuan in the first leg. Atletico Madrid, runners up to city rivals Real in two of the last three seasons, were drawn against Bayer Leverkusen in a repeat of their clash at the same stage in 2014/15. On that occasion, Atletico emerged victorious after a tense penalty shootout.
Two-time winners Juventus were drawn against FC Porto, while Borussia Dortmund also face Portuguese opposition in the shape of Benfica. The first legs will be played on Feb 14, 15, 21 and 22 with the second legs on March 7, 8, 14 and 15.
Separately, Manchester United will take on Saint-Etienne in the last 32 of the Europa League pitting world-record signing Paul Pogba against his elder brother Florentin for the first time. Jose Mourinho’s side will host the French club in the first leg on Feb 16 at Old Trafford, with the return the following week. United midfielder Paul represents France but Florentin, a defender, plays for Guinea and the brothers have never faced each other in a competitive game. At age 26, Florentin Pogba is three years older than his more famous sibling, who cost United £89 million ($109 million) from Juventus in the summer.
The other Premier League representative, Tottenham Hotspur, will face Gent of Belgium after being eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage. Villarreal of Spain will face Italian giants Roma in one of the standout ties, while Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach were drawn against Fiorentina of Italy. United and Saint-Etienne met in the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup first round in 1977, with United winning 3-1 on aggregate. On that occasion United were forced to host the second leg in the southern English city of Plymouth, 450 km away from Old Trafford, following crowd trouble in the first leg in France.
Mourinho’s men finished second in Group A behind Fenerbahce of Turkey while Saint-Etienne topped Group C. After also having to go to Ukraine to face Zorya Luhansk in the group stage, United’s Portuguese manager is pleased that there will be no long away trip this time. Saint-Etienne, 10-time French champions and European Cup runners-up in 1976, are eighth in Ligue 1. Saint-Etienne will host United in the second leg at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Feb 22, with that game brought forward a day to avoid a clash with Lyon, who play AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands nearby the following day. — Agencies