The last 16 of the UEFA Champions League 2012-13 have been drawn and some mouth-watering ties have been laid out in front of us.
Real Madrid v Manchester United looks like being the headline clash as it means a first return to Old Trafford for world superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Earlier this year the Portuguese went back to Manchester for the first time since leaving Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to join los Blancos in 2009 when Jose Mourinho’s side were pitted against Premier League champions Manchester City in the group stages.
United, led by Robin van Persie, are in exhilarating form and it should be a rip-roaring tie.
Barcelona facing AC Milan is the renewal of a regular fixture in recent years, though the Rossoneri are a different looking side from previous years.
Arsenal have been drawn against Bayern Munich and are guaranteed a tough assessment from the in-form Bundesliga side.
Arsene Wenger’s Gunners have been struggling for consistency so far this season, while Bayern are consistently thrashing teams to reach a goal difference of plus 37 and lead the league by 11 points.
Valencia v PSG, Celtic v Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund, Porto v Malaga and Galatasaray v Schalke 04 are the other ties taking place.
GMF thought the best way to prepare for the various clashes is to pick out the best ties from the round of 16 in the past few years involving Premier League sides.
If the above fixtures live up to these classics in even a small way it will mean a terrific round of games.
Here they are…
Manchester United v Porto, 2004
Mourinho is now a familiar foe to Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, but the Portuguese went there as underdog the first time. 2004 was the year he took Porto to the title, but a 2-1 win at the Estadio do Dragao looked like not being enough as United were leading 1-0 and going through on away goals. That is, until Costinha’s last minute strike won it for them and prompted Mourinho’s now iconic touchline running celebration.
Chelsea v Barcelona, 2005
These two teams are famous for their clashes now, with drama almost a guarantee when they line up against one another in the knockout stages. The Catalans had come from behind at Camp Nou to win 2-1 in a match that saw Didier Drogba harshly sent off. Chelsea had a tough task in the return leg at Stamford Bridge without their talismanic Ivorian, but a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes appeared to have dispelled any misgivings. However, a Ronaldinho-inspired Barcelona were soon going through again after pulling two back. It eventually took a John Terry header to put Chelsea through, though Ricardo Carvalho’s marking techniques made it another contentious decision.
Liverpool v Real Madrid, 2009
This match was notable for a complete and exemplary two-legged performance from the Merseysiders. After containing los Blancos in the Santiago Bernabeu and going away deserved 1-0 winners, Liverpool put in an almost perfect display of swift counter-attacking to blow away the Spaniards 4-0 in one of the best performances of a Premier League side in the Champions League ever.
Arsenal v Barcelona, 2011
Andrey Arshavin’s winner completed one of the best nights experienced by fans at Emirates Stadium, but it would eventually turn to despair. David Villa gave Barcelona the lead in a dominant first half display, but the Gunners gradually grew into the game and a late equaliser form Robin van Persie set the stage for Arshavin to capitalise.
The Camp Nou leg was not quite so joyful for Arsene Wenger’s side as they were on their way through after taking the lead and holding their own, but Van Persie’s second contentious yellow for kicking the ball away changed everything. Barcelona dominated the ten men and eventually got the goals they needed. Nicklas Bendtner had a golden opportunity to snatch a win in the dying minutes, but his touch let him down and Arsenal were out once more.
Arsenal v AC Milan, 2012
Another glorious failure from the Gunners and two legs that perfectly illustrated the effect momentum can have on a side. AC were imperious in the first leg at the San Siro and cruised to a 4-0 win, though Wenger tore into his team for their lacklustre display.
The return leg at Emirates Stadium came in the middle of an Arsenal winning streak and a nothing to lose attitude propelled them to an astonishing 3-0 half-time lead. An unlikely turnaround looked within their grasp, but Milan’s superior experience, as well as Robin van Persie for once missing an easy opportunity, helped them see out the tie. Sighs of relief from the Serie A side at the end told of how different the two legs were.
What have been your favourite last 16 Champions League ties? Leave a comment below to let us know…