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The clubs that made it out of the Champions League group stage learned of their fate on Monday as the draw for the round of 16 was completed at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
Here comes the admin part: The round-of-16 first-leg games are set to kick off on Feb. 18-19 and 25-26, with the return fixtures on March 10-11 and 17-18. The final is on May 30 in the Turkish capital of Istanbul.
The draw, which was unusually swift by UEFA standards, offered up a plethora of box-office pairings.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 16, 2019
After topping their group, Chelsea have been saddled with a fairly harsh tie against Bayern Munich, who won all six of their group games and scored 24 goals in the process.
However, the Blues were unperturbed and instead decided to remind Bayern of one of their previous dalliances with Frank Lampard.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 16, 2019
Bayern weren’t quite so keen to have their memories jogged about former Champions League meetings with Chelsea, who beat them in the German club’s own backyard to win the 2012 final courtesy of a certain Ivory Coast striker.
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) December 16, 2019
The headline tie sees Manchester City pitted against Real Madrid, with Pep Guardiola returning to the Bernabeu to face his old Clasico foes.
City fans might be heartened to learn that their coach hasn’t fared too badly on Real’s soil over the course of his managerial career thus far. He’s won nine, drawing four and losing four of his 17 previous meetings with them.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 16, 2019
Defending champions Liverpool will be heading back to the Wanda Metropolitano — the very stadium in which they lifted the trophy at last season — to face Atletico Madrid.
They’ll be hoping their journey to the Spanish capital runs a little smoother than the last time they faced Atletico away back in 2010, when Diego Forlan scored the only goal in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal. However, Liverpool’s biggest opponent for that fixture was Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano which grounded flights across Europe when it erupted, forcing the Reds to travel all the way to the Spanish capital by road.
Last time Liverpool played away at Atletico Madrid they were forced to go by train because of the Icelandic volcano eruption. Still can’t believe UEFA made them do that.
— John Bradley (@jbradleymedia) December 16, 2019
After pulling a two-legger against Napoli, Barcelona may not be looking forward to facing Italian opposition. The last two times they have met Serie A sides in the latter stages of the competition (vs. Juventus in 2016-17 and Roma in 2017-18) they have been sent packing.
Football from another galaxy. pic.twitter.com/qSp4z8uXA6
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 16, 2019
Just spare a thought for poor old Fiorentina, who were left looking on forlornly from the sideline having failed to qualify for a decade.
— ACF Fiorentina English ???? (@ACFFiorentinaEN) December 16, 2019
Awww, bless them.
While we’re on the subject of pity: let’s not forget Manchester United and Arsenal, whose respective Europa League round-of-32 draws against Club Brugge and Olympiakos warrant only a footnote here, and thus also in the annals of football history.
Give us a call when/if things get interesting down there, guys.