Europe’s elite await Champions League last 16 fate


Europe’s leading clubs will discover their opponents for the last 16 of the Champions League on Monday when the draw is made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon.

Defending champions Barcelona, Bayern Munich and record 10-time winners Real Madrid are among the teams to enter the pot of top seeds consisting of the eight group winners from the previous round.

Last year’s beaten finalists Juventus, Premier League leaders Arsenal and reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain headline the clubs in pot two, having finished as runners-up in the group phase.

Manchester City and 2012 European champions Chelsea both advanced as top seeds following final-day group victories, along with two-time finalists Atletico Madrid, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Wolfsburg, who reached the knockout phase for the first time after dumping out Manchester United to finish top of Group B.

PSV Eindhoven profited from United’s demise as they joined Benfica, Roma, Dynamo Kiev and competition debutants Gent as the other teams in the second pot.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested he was hoping to avoid the likes of Juve and PSG in the next round, where the group winners will be at home in the second leg.

“I hope we get a nice, not too difficult draw, so that we can look towards the new year with a degree of optimism,” said Rummenigge.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc saw his side extend their unbeaten start to the domestic season with a 5-1 rout of Lyon on Sunday, but he said there were two teams he was hoping to dodge in the draw.

“We would like to avoid B and B,” said Blanc, referring to title-holders Barca and Bundesliga leaders Bayern.

“We’re all unanimous in saying that there are only good teams left — we all know that. I think like all the runners-up we want to avoid the two favourites for the competition.”

Arsenal recovered from a woeful start to their group as a 3-0 victory at Olympiakos last week sent the Gunners through to the last 16 for the 16th successive season.

Arsene Wenger’s men have bowed out at this stage each of the last five seasons, but England international Theo Walcott was confident Arsenal could make a deep run in the competition this time.

“It doesn’t matter who we play. I think if we contribute in the right way, we can beat anyone on our day, definitely,” said Walcott.

“Whoever we get, we need to respect them well. Against Monaco we didn’t respect them at all,” he added, recalling Arsenal’s disappointing loss to the Ligue 1 side on away goals last season.

“Whoever you get in the draw is going to be difficult.”