Football: Horror draw for Arsenal

Former Dutch soccer player Ruud Gullit showing the lot of Arsenal FC during the draw for the Round of 16 of the Uefa Champions League 2016/17, in Switzerland on Dec 12, 2016.
Former Dutch soccer player Ruud Gullit showing the lot of Arsenal FC during the draw for the Round of 16 of the Uefa Champions League 2016/17, in Switzerland on Dec 12, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

Bayern Munich loom yet again as Gunners try to overturn history and reach quarter-finals

NYON • Arsenal were once again drawn against Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the 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 that 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.

Instead, they must face Carlo Ancelotti's German champions who finished second in their group, 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 1-5 at the Allianz Arena.

"We are through to the knockout stage for the 14th consecutive season, which is testament to Arsene Wenger and the teams throughout that time," Arsenal club secretary David Miles said.

TOUGH PROPOSITION

The fans will think we have got the rough end of the draw again - at some stage the tide has got to turn and we will beat them.

DAVID MILES, Arsenal club secretary, on drawing German giants Bayern Munich in the last 16 again.


FRANK ASSESSMENT

They are a strong team and I rate them as stronger at the moment than in the last few years.

MANUEL NEUER, Bayern Munich goalkeeper, on drawing Arsenal in the last 16 for the third time in five seasons.

"The fans will think we have got the rough end of the draw again - at some stage the tide has got to turn and we will beat them."

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was confident in facing the Gunners again, but warned that Arsenal are a much different and stronger team now.

"We know Arsenal from the last few years when we often played against them, twice already in the last 16, when we had a good experience and got through," the 30-year-old said.

"But they are a strong team and I rate them as stronger at the moment than in the last few years."

Arsenal have not progressed beyond the last 16 since 2009-10 when they defeated Porto, but lost to Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Since then they have lost six times in succession at this stage, twice to Bayern, twice to Barcelona, and also to Milan in 2012 and Monaco last year.

PSG, runners-up to Arsenal in Group A, were drawn against five-time winners Barcelona, who have eliminated the French club in the quarter-finals in two of the past four seasons.

The two teams also met in the group stage in 2014-15 - PSG claimed a 3-2 victory in Paris while Barca won 3-1 at the Nou Camp.

Recent history favours Barcelona, 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.

  • CHAMPS LEAGUE LAST 16

  • Bayern Munich v Arsenal

    Manchester City v Monaco

    Sevilla v Leicester City

    Real Madrid v Napoli

    Benfica v Borussia Dortmund

    Porto v Juventus

    Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid

    Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona

    • First-leg ties to be held on Feb 14-15 and Feb 21-22, with second-leg ties to be held on March 7-8 and March 14-15.

"If I could have chosen another team, I would have done," admitted PSG's director of football Patrick Kluivert, a former Barcelona striker.

Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre told beIN Sports Spain: "It is true that of the (possible) options, Bayern Munich was possibly the strongest, with respect to the rest, but PSG are also a great team.

"There is no guarantee but it does give you a certain confidence to have beaten them before. Every game is different and we will see what happens."

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.

"We are happy to be here, and that we have avoided Real Madrid and Barcelona," City's director of football Txiki Begiristain told BT Sport.

"But Monaco are playing probably the best football in France now. They have young players and a lot of talent."

Premier League champions Leicester's first taste of European Cup knockout football sees them meet the Europa League holders Sevilla as a reward for topping their group in their debut appearance in the competition.

Atletico Madrid will take on Bayer Leverkusen and two-time winners Juventus were drawn against FC Porto, while Borussia Dortmund will face Benfica.

The first legs will be played on Feb 14-15 and Feb 21-22 with the second legs on March 7-8 and March 14-15.

In the Europa League, Manchester United record signing Paul Pogba will meet his elder brother Florentin of Saint-Etienne after the two sides were drawn against each other in the last 32.

The other Premier League representatives, Tottenham Hotspur, will face Gent of Belgium after being eliminated from the Champions League.

The two-legged ties will be played on Feb 16 and 23.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Horror draw for Arsenal'. Print Edition | Subscribe