The draw for the first knockout round of the Champions League was made on Monday and it was deja vu for Chelsea and Arsenal as they drew PSG and Barcelona again. Manchester City were the only English club that were given a draw that they can be optimistic about as they will face Dynamo Kiev in their bid to reach the quarter final stage.
Jose Mourinho’s side were drawn against PSG for the third season in a row in a fixture that will be hyped up due to the club’s expensive players and wealthy owners.
In 2013/14, Chelsea progressed with an away goal advantage after losing the first match 3-1. In the second leg, a late goal from Demba Ba secured the London club’s place in the next round with a 2-0 win.
Last season, PSG got their revenge on Chelsea as they won on away goals in extra time. The second leg at Stamford Bridge will be remembered for Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s controversial red card where the entire Chelsea side surrounded the ref.
Two late goals in normal time from Gary Cahill and then David Luiz forced the game into extra time. Early in added time, PSG captain, Thiago Silva gave away a penalty but then equalised in the 116th minute to send his side through.
Chelsea are underperforming in the league this season as they sit in 16th position but have still showed confidence in Europe. PSG were drawn against Real Madrid in the group stage, which led them to finish in second place. However, they are still unbeaten in the league and Ibrahimovic is in top form with 16 goals in 18 games this season.
The clash between the two sides will be one to look forward to if it is anything like the past two years. Expect aggressive tackles and plenty of goals. I think PSG will progress again, which will put the final blow into Chelsea’s disappointing season.
Arsenal failed to turn up in their first two matches against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos which led to their nervy end to the group stage, where they had to win by 2 or more goals away in Greece. Olivier Giroud put in a match of the match performance with his first hat-trick for the club and secured a second place finish, only for Wenger’s men to face Barcelona again.
Arsenal vs Barcelona is becoming a common fixture in the Champions League, with the Gunners being drawn against them twice before in recent seasons. Both times Barcelona have progressed thanks to Lionel Messi’s six goals, which will not make Arsenal fans confident.
However, Messi has never scored against Cech, and with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in form, it could give Arsenal fans some confidence. There is no pressure on Arsenal to beat Barcelona and this could work in the London side’s favour.
I think that Messi, Suarez and Neymar will be too much for the Arsenal defence, especially with Coquelin missing due to injury. I expect there to be plenty of goals in the Nou Camp leg, but maybe a disciplined and counter-attacking performance from Arsenal at the Emirates which could give the London side hope for the second leg.
Manchester City have not had the best of times in the Champions League since they first qualified for the tournament. This season is City’s fourth time in the competition, but they have never progressed past this stage. The first two times, they failed to qualify from their groups, but the past two years they were drawn against Barcelona in the first knockout round after finishing second in their group to Bayern Munich.
Barcelona beat them comfortably both times, but this year, thanks to late drama on match day six, City topped their group which led to them drawing Dynamo Kiev in the knockout round. Kiev will be a long trip for City, but was one of the easier draws that Pellegrini’s side could have hoped for.
By February, Aguero, Kompany and Silva should be back in City’s side and this will be vital for the Manchester club. City will be confident going into the match, but will need to respect their opponent as they will not want to underestimate Kiev like Arsenal did with Monaco last season.
I think that City will be the English side to get the furthest in the competition and they will probably make the Champions League their priority this season. If all their players are fit, they could have a real go at getting far and I believe they will easily get past Dinamo Kiev.