Champions League draw disappoints with three familiar ties

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Monday's Champions League draw was a case of deja-vu for Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea.

The reigning champions were given a somewhat favourable draw against Schalke 04, who will look for some hope under new boss and former Champions League winner Roberto Di Matteo.

Chelsea were first on the list of familiar ties after being drawn against PSG, which is bound to make the Blues' route to the next phase tougher than expected. And then there was Manchester City, who also drew Barcelona for the second season in a row – arguably the tie of the round, as it was considered at this stage last year.

Yet amid the surprise of three draws being exactly the same as last year's last-16 draw, their was extreme satisfaction, frustration and sheer emotion.

Two of the three listed above will certainly apply to Arsenal and boss Arsene Wenger after the favourable pairing with Monaco. Gunners fans will be all to used to the sight of drawing a European heavyweight as a consequence of coming second in their group.

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Wenger's prayers answered

This time, however, it was different. When asked on his hopes before the draw, Wenger replied: "Maybe I will go to church over the weekend."

With that luck comes the prospect of a potentially longer and more successful run for Arsenal in this season's competition, which would provide the fans with the comfort that has eluded them in a disappointing league campaign so far.

Mourinho not scared

If Wenger was wary of a tough draw then Jose Mourinho must have been relishing it.

"I would say PSG", Mourinho told reporters when asked who he would prefer to face in the draw.

"It's easy for us to travel, easy for the fans to travel and they won't have to spend a lot of money to get there."

It was the sort of confidence from Mourinho that suggested that he knew the Blues were going to face the Parisians for the second consecutive season. It was undoubtedly the toughest draw that Chelsea could have got yet one would feel that Mourinho's men may have too much for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Co.

City troubles

Yet it is Manchester City who will feel that they have received the harshest luck of the draw out of the three British teams left. The ruthless lesson that City received at the hands of the Catalonians last time out will no doubt make boss Manuel Pellegrini wary of the huge task that awaits him in City's quest to achieve European success.

Yet the Chilean will take heart from the momentum that City carried to qualify out of a difficult group and particularly from the 3-2 win against Bayern Munich, which showed that on their day City can indeed compete with the best around.

But they will need talisman Sergio Aguero fit if they are to have a serious chance of toppling Barca home and away. Pellegrini is not the only one who will be wary however, with his opposite number Luis Enrique knowing that a trip to Manchester will be a big test of his side's Champions League credentials.

Best of the rest

There were several other intriguing ties drawn in Nyon on Monday. None more so than Juventus's tie against Borussia Dortmund. With Dortmund currently reeling from the losses of past marksmen Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze to Bayern, the dismal league form of Jurgen Klopp's men means that this tie could go all the way. 

Real Madrid, who are on a stunning 21-game winning streak, will certainly feel satisfied after drawing Schalke. Los Blancos thrashed the Germans 9-1 on aggregate at the same stage last year en route to 'La Decima' and will be expecting a safe passage through to the quarter finals once more.

The same goes for Atlético Madrid, who drew another German opponent in the shape of Bayer Leverkusen. Last year's runner-up will also be expected to qualify with few alarms after sweeping aside their group with relative ease. "Bayer? Nothing is straightforward, but we can get through it," said Atlético spokesman Clemete Villaverde ahead of their last-16 clash. 

Another European giant who will be expected to go through will be that of Bayern Munich, who were paired against Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk. The prospect of a three hour flight to Lviv would not have pleased boss Pep Guardiola, who will expect his in-form Bayern team to be too much for Shakhtar, regardless of the long trip to Ukraine.

Bayern will have to watch out for Shakhtar's Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano however, who is this season's Champions League top scorer with nine goals, which included a remarkable five-goal haul against BATE Borisov earlier in the group stage. Nevertheless, Bayern will expect to progress.

The final draw that was made included group winners FC Porto against FC Basel, who qualified after nullifying a desperate Liverpool at Anfield on matchday six. One would feel that this could be another tie that may go down to the very end, with both sides happy to be avoiding the European big boys, for now at least.

It was a draw that has only spiced up the competition. The bookies have Real Madrid as favourites to defend their crown, which would not have raised many eyebrows. However, with Bayern, Barca, Chelsea and Atlético chasing their own taste for glory, the 2014/15 race to Berlin could be the best yet.

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