The next two weeks will witnesses English football's elite clubs return to Champions League action in what could prove to be pivotal games in their season. Despite a fantastic record in the Champions League, it is not inconceivable for English representation to be severely depleted when this round is completed.
The first week of last 16 ties are without doubt the most difficult for the English clubs. You could not have picked more difficult games if you had selected them yourself.
Tuesday will see Manchester City entertain the giants that are Barcelona in a glamour tie that will pit the wits of the Spanish giants against City who are trying to make their mark on the European stage.
Barcelona have a star-studded side that will test a City team who are fresh from a convincing FA Cup victory over Chelsea but who have also recently stumbled in the Premier league dropping points against Chelsea and Norwich City.
City will have to be at their best but if Sergio Aguero is fit again, or at least on the bench, then this will provide a huge boost. City would have perhaps liked to have been drawn away in the first leg but they will still have to be at their best both home and away to come out on top.
Wednesday will see Arsenal entertain European champions Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium. Bayern are keen to defend their trophy but they will face an Arsenal side who are full of confidence after a season that has seen them become challengers for the Premier League title.
They have a huge amount of European experience and have competed well with Bayern in previous games so I predict this tie could be very close. However, Arsenal cannot afford a similar performance to the one they produced at Anfield recently.
The second week of ties for English clubs are still tricky but they are also games that we expect Manchester United and Chelsea to come through positively.
Manchester United take on Olympiacos and, despite their troubles in the Premier League, they have been impressive in Europe this season. It was predicted that David Moyes may struggle in Europe in his first season but he has guided United through the group stages easily and, with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie now fit, they have the firepower and pace in their side to easily outgun Olympiacos.
Although I doubt they can win the competition this season they are always a tough nut to crack in Europe and will think of this as a relief from their Premier League struggles.
Whilst Chelsea also look to have an easier tie than some of their other Premier League rivals they must be wary against Galatasaray who will be backed by some very passionate supporters, particularly in their home leg.
Chelsea must not underestimate them. Jose Mourinho has enough experience to know what to expect in Turkey and he must be confident in his and his team's abilities to reach the next round. Mourinho will be looking for silverware in his first season back at Stamford Bridge and with their defeat in the FA Cup to Manchester City at the weekend he will now have to focus on Europe and the Premier League to satisfy his desire.
All in all it looks set to be a feast of football for English teams in the next two weeks. Let's hope that the stresses and strains of the Premier League title race and fight for European places next season has not taken its toll on our clubs.
Who, out of the English teams, has the most realistic chance of progression to the next round? Who is most likely to compete for the Champions league title this season?
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