Of course, it was going to be Barcelona. The immediate argument thrown in the direction of Antonio Conte and his players was “well you should have won the group then!” even after Conte had proclaimed post-match “nobody will want to draw us in the next round”. True as that maybe Antonio, but I’m sure you’d have been happier getting Besiktas, no?
All that negativity aside, Chelsea do not need to fear Barcelona as much as they would be fearing someone like Paris Saint-Germain for example. There is hope sprinkled on top of a whole lot of unknown.
- Barcelona might well be top of La Liga right now, but this is not Pep’s Great Barcelona anymore. Luis Suarez is not having the greatest season ever so far, Andres Iniesta is not getting any younger and the squad players at the Camp Nou are not of the same calibre as they have been.
- It could be argued that Barca are top more down to the fact that Real and Atletico have taken forever to get going this season.
- Even in the last two weeks Barcelona have shown defensive frailty in allowing leads to slip as well as struggling to break down disciplined defences
- The tie is to be played in February. Everything could well have changed by then in terms of the form of the two clubs, injuries or anything else really!
Antonio Conte will now have a clear focus in his mind and a very long run up to get his soldiers completely on board with his plan for the Catalans. With the Premier League race looking pretty much over for Chelsea, they will no doubt start to plan their selections with the Champions League tie in mind.
The other ties
Basel vs Manchester City
Jose Mourinho would be able to tell Pep Guardiola not to take this tie too lightly. Basel were the only team to beat United in the group stages and their batterings of Benfica demonstrate they deserve their place in the Round of 16.
Juventus vs Tottenham Hotspur
Having come out of a group with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund as winners Spurs needn’t fear anyone. Juventus are not their usual dominant selves in Serie A (yet) this season so this could be closer than most people would initially think.
FC Porto vs Liverpool
This will all depend on which Liverpool team turns out of Jurgen Klopp. On their day, as we have seen, they can tear teams apart but on the very same day you can believe a defensive crisis is moments away. Porto struggled through to the next round but are always strong at home.
Sevilla vs Manchester United
Jose Mourinho will be delighted with this draw as United managed to avoid any of the more tricky sides that could have come their way. This knockout match should be bread and butter for the English side.
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain
What were the chances, eh? Every knockout round needs a blockbuster tie and none are bigger than this one. The back-to-back Champions will probably head into the match as second favourites, but will PSG have the mental strength to knock them out?
Shakhtar Donetsk vs AS Roma
It’s the least attractive tie of them all but possibly the hardest to predict. Shakhtar are the only side to beat Manchester City in 90 minutes this season and Roma can be very strong on their day, winning a group that saw Atletico Madrid slip into the Europa League.
Bayern Munich vs Besiktas
Bayern would be expecting to win this one comfortably as Besiktas qualified from the easiest group. The Germans are not firing on all cylinders yet this season, but come February would expect themselves to have a great chance of lifting the trophy.