Champions League draw sees Arsenal return to scene of demolition


messi-v-arsenalIt’s really quite hard to watch the draw for the Champions League without still feeling very bitter towards the establishment of world football after the awarding of the World Cup to Russia and Qatar only weeks ago. The UEFA dignitaries trotted out, and played with each others some balls to decide who will be playing who in the first knockout stage of the European MEGA Cup aka UEFA Champions League.

After all the predictions earlier this week, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger may now be seen as some weird clairvoyant type figure after his team were paired up with Barcelona. What he didn’t predict was the route the other English sides have to take in order to reach the Quarter Finals, I’m pretty sure deep down most could have predicted how it would all turn out though.

First to appear amongst the oozing cytoplasm that exits the UEFA balls was Tottenham Hotspur. Winning their group has presented them the unenviable task of AC Milan in the last 16. Obviously, many will point to the fact that Gareth Bale scored a hat trick in the San Siro earlier this season, which means they’ll win of course.

In all seriousness, AC Milan was the hardest draw they could have got, but it is one Spurs should win. Barca v Arsenal might well be the tie of the round, Tottenham v Milan is certainly second in that list and might even be the most exciting.

The other two English clubs left in the competition are Chelsea and Man Utd, both of who were granted simple assignments. Chelsea’s form might be far from brilliant right now, but even if they don’t strengthen during the January transfer window, Copenhagen won’t present much of a challenge to the reigning Premier League champions.

Jesper Gronkjaer’s return to Stamford Bridge might be the only piece of noteworthy information in this match, unless the fixture in Copenhagen descents into a drink fuelled snowball fight. Lets be honest, Copenhagen have more chance winning that than getting anything out of this tie.

Manchester United have a slightly more arduous task, a trip to Didier Deschamps’ Marseille awaiting them in February. You’d expect Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges to get at least a point down in the south of France and then pulverize the French 1-0 at Old Trafford to drift into the next round. The Emirates and Nou Camp is where the real action is to be had though.

If last season taught us anything then it was that Arsenal are a poor, poor man’s Barcelona. The lesson they were taught in the Nou Camp was a joy to behold and it could be a whole lot worse this time round.

Barcelona is currently considered, in some circles, to be the best club side in the world by a long way – almost a country mile! Arsenal isn’t even the best side in England. They might play football that’s pleasing on the eye, and have some very skilful players, but they lack one thing – silverware. Barca have this in abundance in addition to playing football that’s pleasing on the eye and having the best players in the world.

The two encounters will show us just how far Arsenal have come since last season and also how much better Barcelona are than them. The full draw was as follows:

Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk

AC Milan v Tottenham Hotspur

Valencia v Schalke 04

Internazionale v Bayern Munchen

Lyon v Real Madrid

Arsenal v Barcelona

Marseille v Man Utd

FC Copenhagen v Chelsea

In the meantime, here’s Leo Messi’s demolition of Arsenal last year to enjoy: