The draw for the Champions League stage took place on Friday and it’s thrown some interesting encounters. The stand out fixture sees Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal take on Italian giants AC Milan. The two legged encounter will take place on the 15th February and 6th of March. Arsenal will visit the San Siro first before they return to the comforts of The Emirates. Even though the Italian side will go into the tie as favourites the Gunners will be confident of coming out on top especially as they beat Milan three seasons ago 2-0 thanks to a inspirational performance from Cesc Fabregas. The North London side also a great recent record against Italian sides beating both Roma and Inter Milan.
Other than this fixture the big sides have been kept apart. Another tie that should prove interesting sees Chelsea face the conquerors of Manchester City, Napoli. The Italian side may go into the tie as massive under dogs but their fans are some of the most passionate about and will be every present when the English side visit in February. It will be interesting to see if Chelsea boss Villas-Boas would have added to his side in the January transfer window and if so whether they will be eligible to play.
The full draw for the last 16th looks like this
Lyon (Fra) v APOEL (Cyp)
Napoli (Ita) v Chelsea (Eng)
AC Milan (Ita) vArsenal (Eng)
Basel (Swi) v Bayern Munich (Ger)
Bayer Leverkusen (Ger) v Barcelona (Spa)
CSKA Moscow (Rus) v Real Madrid (Spa)
Zenit St Petersburg (Rus) v Benfica (Por)
Marseille (Fra) v Inter Milan (Ita)
One side that will simply be delighted with being in the draw will be Cypriot side APOEL, and they will still fancy their chances of a quarter final berth as they face a Lyon side that aren’t as imposing as they have been in previous Champions League.
Defending champions Barcelona will face German side Bayer Leverkusen and will certainly be confident of making it into the last 8. Their La Liga form has picked up and they are certain to produce impressive displays but they will be without the services of star striker David Villa due to injury.
Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid will be delighted with their draw as they face Swiss side Basel who knocked English champions Manchester United out of the competition. There is a possibility that the Swiss side could be expelled from the competition if UEFA decide the Swiss FA haven’t acted correctly with FC Sion who were thrown out of the Europa League early in the year.
For tips and football betting on the Champions League will cover all matches throughout the tournament. It’s difficult to look past Barcelona retaining the Champions League but it certainly not wise to write of their Spanish rivals Real Madrid who will be desperate to add another European trophy to their impressive collection.