It was a case of mixed fortunes for the football clubs representing England in this year’s Champions League. The air of celebration of having all four teams go through the group stages successfully has been somewhat dampened by the fixtures released in the final 16 of the competition.
There are two clubs from each of London and Manchester in the knockout phase of the Champions League which is seen as the pinnacle of club football on the planet. The feeling of excitement however seems watered down by what fixtures the four clubs have to go through to be able to get a place in the quarter finals. Manchester United seem to have the easiest of the draw by being drawn with Greek club Olympiacos in what is seem to be the easiest draw for the English sides. The luck of Ferguson seems to have stayed with the club even after the departure of the legendary Scotsman. Chelsea have been drawn to face Galatasaray in what will be seen by many as something of a homecoming for club legend Didier Drogba.
Arsenal and Manchester City however have ties that point out the important of the coveted top spot in the groups. The very uneasy task of having to face group winners of the Champions League is what awaits them. Arsenal will take on the current holders and their eliminators from last season Bayern Munich while Manchester City take on the might of Barcelona FC. At the start of the draw, the three teams to avoid were definitely Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona. They were the clubs nobody wanted. However, it seems lady luck hasn’t so kindly smiled on Arsenal and Manchester City.
Arsenal forward tried to put a positive spin on the situation while confirming the assertion that these are the teams to beat in the competition.
“You see the likes of the Barcelonas and Real Madrids and you always want to play against them and obviously Bayern Munich too,” he told Arsenal Player.
“We managed to get a good result away at Bayern last season so that brings back good memories. If you’re going to do well in the competition you’ve got to beat the best teams.” He was referring to the fact that Arsenal beat Bayern last Season in Germany but on that occasion, it was a case of too little too late. Philip Lahm, the captain of the Bavarian team was a bit more honest and straightforward. “Arsenal are certainly not a team you’d hope to face.”
In the case of the Chelsea Galatasaray tie, there would be one man in the spotlight, Didier Drogba. He, won the Champions League trophy for Chelsea with his last kick for the club against Bayern after putting in an amazing couple of years of service at the club. He tweeted saying, “…for both games I will be playing at home.” Much as it might be the homecoming of an illustrious son, Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager would not exactly be in a mood to give away free points. The hyper-competitive Portuguese would be pulling out all the stops to win all three points.
The Manchester clubs also seem to face varying fortunes in the competition. While United seem to have an easy draw, City will have to be on their A-game to get anything from the Spanish Catalan giants Barcelona.
When the dust finally settles on the draw and the banter starts among the fans of the clubs, there may be a hidden blessing in the tough draw for Arsenal and City as they will be on their toes and it is never a bad thing to be on your guard in this game. One thing however is certain, football fans across Europe are in for a treat.