With the Champions League group stages finally decided - Chelsea hold the infamous title of becoming the first holders of the trophy to fail to make the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
16 teams have made it through to the knock out stages, including Manchester United, Arsenal and even Celtic. Eight of the 16 teams are seeded – those who won their group – with the eight runners-up unseeded.
With the draw set to take place tomorrow, Thursday 20th December at 11.30 CET, 10.30 here in the UK. I have put together six mouth-watering potential fixtures for the last 16 – in which could be crucial for how the remainder of the tournament will turn out. Real Madrid finishing second in their group was huge – which now means the Spanish champions could be put up against the mightiest of opponents in their quest for a 10th Champions League trophy.
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The two sides cannot be paired with either the winners from their section or clubs from the same country, so – unfortunately we wont be able to see the two European heavyweights in Barcelona and Real Madrid battle it out in the last 16.
BARCELONA V ARSENAL
The return of Cesc Fabregas.
A tie seen all too often for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal Football Club. A final in 2006, and two recent ties in which Barcelona have come out victorious.
The recent battle between the two saw Barcelona run out 4-3 on aggregate. A 3-1 victory at the Nou Camp along with a 2-1 away defeat at the Emirates saw Barcelona progress to Arsenal's expense.
In 2010 Arsenal earnt themselves a 2-2 draw the The Emirates against Barcelona. With 2 away goals Barcelona always looked dangerous, and Arsenal were desperate for a result at the Nou Camp. Unfortunatley, Barcelona ran riot at the Nou Camp and won the tie 4-1. Once again progressing over the London club.
MANCHESTER UNITED v REAL MADRID
The return of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Two of the biggest clubs in world football battling it out against each other, in which the winner would no doubt take one of the future semi-final spots, at least. Manchester United have had their battles with Real Madrid in the past, with the famous 3-1 defeat in Spain. The Brazilian Ronaldo and namesake of Cristianio in his prime scored a world class hat trick against the Red Devils in 2003, and although United won the away leg 4-3 in a typical European game, the Spanish side marched on through.
Manchester United fans will be desperate to see Cristiano Ronaldo return to Old Trafford – even if it is for the Spanish champions Real Madrid. He would no doubt get a welcoming and loving reception from the Old Trafford faithful – and with United current defensive crisis, it would be interesting to see his reaction if he scored in front of the Stretford End.
PSG V ARSENAL
After Zlatan Ibrahimovic's recent wonder goal against England last month – the past of Zlatan has been brought up – and most notably what could have been one of Wenger's greatest coups as Arsenal manager.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a 19 year old rejected the chance to move to Arsenal Football Club because he was 'only offered a trial.' Now, everyone knows that Zlatan 'doesn’t do trials' – and Wenger looked elsewhere. The big Swede is an absolute monster of a man, but blessed with the faintest of touches that sees him as arguably one of the greatest centre forwards of all time.
That 4-0 drubbing AC Milan gave Arsenal last year – anyone remember?
BAYERN MUNICH V REAL MADRID
After a semi-final last year in which Jose Mourinho was denied a victory and a chance to face old club Chelsea in the final – Mourinho will be desperate for revenge against high flying Bayern Munich.
In a game which goal keeper Manuel Neuer saved two penalties in the dreaded penalty shootout - and saw Sergio Ramos' effort fly miles over the bar.
Currently Real Madrid trail Barcelona by 11 points in La Liga. With such a difference unlikely for Madrid to overturn – Mourinho will turn his attention solely on to earning Real Madrid the long awaited tenth Champions League trophy.
PSG V AC MILAN
What a game this could be. After the recent summer sales of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva from AC Milan to PSG – this game could be quite a tale.
With players seemingly determined to stay at the San Siro – they were ultimately sold due to financial struggles in Italian Football.
Ibrahimovic and Silva have taken Ligue 1 football by storm – and will be desperate to prove Massimiliano Allegri, Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi wrong.
MALAGA VS CELTIC
Now, although this tie is in a different league to the other five. Celtic have achieved a phenomenal feat by qualifying for the latter stages of the tournament. Neil Lennons men even achieved a 2-1 win over Barcelona.
I believe with the options they have – Malaga will be the easiest tie for the Scottish champions – in their quest for Champions League glory.
No matter how far Celtic get, Lennon's goal was to qualify for the latter stages – any more will be just a bonus for The Bhoys.
What Game Are You Looking Forward To Most?
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