Saturday 20 January 2018

Champions League draw winners and losers: PSG curse their lack at drawing Real Madrid while Liverpool relax

The group formations are shown on an electronic panel after the drawing of the games for the Champions League 2017/18 Round of 16, at the UEFA headquarters, in Nyon, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
The group formations are shown on an electronic panel after the drawing of the games for the Champions League 2017/18 Round of 16, at the UEFA headquarters, in Nyon, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The Champions League draw threw up another stunner with Real Madrid facing Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea drawn with Barcelona.

Manchester United head to Andalucia to face Sevilla, while crosstown rivals will have been happy to draw FC Basel.

Liverpool face FC Porto, while Tottenham will welcome Juventus to Wembley in one of the ties of the round.

But who will be happy with that draw and who is already cursing their misfortune?

Here are some winners and losers....

Winners

Manchester City

Manchester City were already one of the tournament favourites, with a Premier League lead of eleven points likely to help their continental campaign.

Then they drew FC Basel, the consensus weakest team in the round-of-16 draw and the little bit of good fortune they needed.

City now have a strong chance of reaching the quarter-finals in good shape, well rested and with a solid buffer atop their domestic league.

Pep Guardiola's side are playing great football but, almost as important, they're getting the lucky breaks. That is often the difference between glory and failure.

Liverpool

The draw could have been harder for FC Porto but it will be Liverpool who are thanking their lucky stars. When you see the ties that some of the other sides got, they will feel that the Portuguese giants are eminently beatable, even if they've improved a lot under Sergio Conceicao this season.

Conceicao is an ambitious young manager who has eyes for the top and he will see this as an opportunity to show what he and his side are made of.

But Jurgen Klopp will look at some of the other pairings out there - notably Real Madrid vs PSG - and thank his lucky stars.

Bayern Munich

The outlook was bleak for Bayern after missing out on top spot in their group but Besiktas, while hardly an easy tie, was about as kind as Jupp Heynckes could have hoped for.

It's not been a vintage season in Bavaria and this might be a good time to catch them if you are the Turkish giants.

But Heynckes, who is still working without a contract as he claims he's been too busy to sign it, is a wily old character and there's no coach in the competition who would fancy their chances against his side at the Allianz Arena.

Losers

Paris Saint-Germain

The French side are desperate to make an impact on the continental stage to truly establish themselves among the continent's elite but they got hit by one hell of a speed bump when they drew Real Madrid.

No team has the affinity with the European Cup that the Bernabeu club has and they always seem to crank it up for the knockout phase.

If PSG can eliminate a slightly off-colour Madrid side then it will be a big statement for them, particularly with Kylian Mbappé and Neymar having turned down Real Madrid in the past 12 months. But it won't be easy and a round-of-16 elimination could spell real trouble for Unai Emery.

Mauricio Pochettino

The Argentinean coach had claimed he wanted one of the big teams in order to motivate his side, but with many feeling Spurs have a better chance of Champions League glory than anything domestically it is a kick in the teeth to be drawn with such tough opposition.

Pochettino's Spurs are likely to have emerged from their current funk by February, when they actually face Juve.

But this is a side from Europe's elite who absolutely can't be ignored. Tottenham will point to the fact that they beat Real Madrid, but that's just one performance while Juventus have a history of pulling it out on the biggest stage.

It's certain to be a thrilling tie.

La Liga

The Spanish league has had something of a stranglehold over Europe's premier club competition over the last few seasons.

But that will be tested to the maximum in this year's tournament with the three Spanish teams all landing tough opposition.

Sevilla will face Jose Mourinho's Manchester United while Barcelona also have Premier League opposition in Chelsea.

Real Madrid face PSG, a team desperate to knock them off their perch.

Could we be staring at the first quarter-finals without a Spanish team in years?

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