Tough for England teams in Champions, Europa
ENGLAND’S two surviving representatives in the Champions League, Chelsea and Arsenal, were handed tough ties against Italian opposition in yesterday’s draw, while holders Barcelona will come up against Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen.
Chelsea will take on Napoli, with the first-leg at Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal will meet reigning Serie A champions AC Milan, travelling to Italy first.
Chelsea will know not to take Walter Mazzarri’s side lightly after they qualified for the last 16 at the expense of Manchester City.
For Arsenal, meanwhile, the clash with Milan is a repeat of their meeting at the same stage in 2007-08.
On that occasion the Gunners won 2-0 on aggregate, with Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor scoring late goals in the second-leg at the San Siro after a goalless first-leg. Barcelona will go to Germany first to face the 2002 runners-up Leverkusen.
Elsewhere, Real Madrid, who romped through the group stage, winning all six games in Group D, will face CSKA Moscow, while Bayern Munich, hoping for a home final, will meet Manchester United’s conquerors Basel.
Marseille will take on 2010 winners Inter Milan, Benfica meet Zenit St Petersburg, and Lyon of France will face the tournament outsiders APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus.
In the Europa League, holders Porto will face Premier League leaders Manchester City, while former European champions Ajax Amsterdam will meet Manchester United in two glittering Round-of-32 ties.
All four teams were in the Champions League and dropped down to the Europa League and were, oddly, the first four teams out of the bag when the draw was made.
Davor Suker, who was making the draw, was unable to open the plastic ball containing Manchester City’s name and in a moment of farce Uefa’s director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti and general secretary Gianni Infantino had to help to open the ball.
The two Manchester clubs, who are first and second in the Premier League and will meet in the third round of the FA Cup next month, avoided each other in the Round-of-32 draw though they could meet later in a competition neither really wanted to be in.
City failed to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League after finishing third in Group A behind Napoli and Bayern Munich, while United, who have reached three of the last four Champions League finals, failed to advance. – SAPA-AFP, Reuters