Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00
REUTERS: Manchester City’s fear of drawing one of Europe’s big guns in the Champions League round of 16 was realised on Monday when they were handed a daunting tie with four-times winners Barcelona.
Holders Bayern Munich will play Arsenal at the same stage for the second successive season while Chelsea hero Didier Drogba will make an emotional return to west London with current side Galatasaray following Monday’s draw.
Nine-times winner Real Madrid take on Schalke 04 and last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund will play Zenit St. Petersburg, who scraped through with six points after winning only one of their six group games.
French champions Paris St Germain will play Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid were paired with AC Milan.
“Very tough, we are happy because we are here and we will fight for the trophy, but it’s true that it could be maybe better,” City Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, who held the same position at Barcelona and spent seven years as a player at the Spanish club, told Sky Sports.
Despite the tough draw, City will take confidence from their strong home form which has seen them score a remarkable 35 goals in eight home league matches this season, and their win over Bayern earlier this month, although it was not enough to finish top of their group.
Barcelona share top spot in La Liga with Atletico Madrid, and will hope to have striker Lionel Messi back from a thigh strain in time for the first leg in February.
Three-times winners Manchester United will play Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus, while Atletico will fancy their chances against struggling AC Milan, who currently sit 12th in Serie A, 25 points behind leaders Juventus and 17 points off the last Champions League qualification spot.