German clubs were handed a favorable draw for the Round of 16 in the Champions League in Nyon, Switzerland today all things considered. While the main attraction will be the matches pitting Barcelona/Milan and Manchester United/Real Madrid, Bundesliga clubs were drawn against opponents that can by all means be considered manageable.
Meanwhile, the four clubs in the Europa League had mixed results. Stuttgart and Hannover drew manageable opposition with Genk and Anji respectively while Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach got the shorter end of the stick with Benfica and Lazio.
Bayern happy with their draw
Arsenal will be a familiar opponent for Bayern and one they will have fond memories of, having faced them on their way to winning the competition in 2001 and overcoming them in the 2004/05 season back when current Arsenal player Lukas Podolski was a Bayern player. Arsenal finished second in their group behind Schalke and although they have not been at their best this season they are not a team to be underestimated and will still have to be taken very serious said club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, “We know Arsenal well. We can be satisfied with this draw. It won’t just take care of itself. It’s important we go in search of a good result in London and score a goal there.”
Not ideal opponents for Dortmund
Jürgen Klopp’s team may have gotten the most difficult of the draws today with dark horses Shakhtar Donetsk. The Ukranian champions are one of the surprise packages in the competition this season and knocked out last year’s winners in the group stage. General manager Joachim Watzke heeds caution but is optimistic his team could go through if they play at their best, “We haven´t exactly got our ideal opponents. It’s a tough assignment but we showed during the group stage that we can do well against strong opponents. Perhaps we also enjoy a small advantage in that the league resumes in Ukraine a little later than the Bundesliga.” Dortmund can also take comfort in the fact that they have never lost to Ukranian opposition in Europe, last beating Shaktar in 2001q qualifying round.
Altintop Reunion for Schalke
Schalke may have gotten the most favorable result of the three Bundesliga sides today by being drawn against Turkish champions Galatasaray who have former Schalke player and Gelsenkirchen born Hamit Altintop on their books. Like Bayern, Schalke general manager was extremely satisfied with a draw that his side should be able to overcome, “We were very happy with the draw, Galatasaray was one of our preferred opponents. They have a team that can play very good football and it won’t be an easy two games. I am sure that it will be an emotional game in Turkey but our goal is to quality for the quarter finals.”
All three German teams will play the first leg away in February with the return legs resuming in March
Round of 16 draw
Galatasaray AŞ (TUR) v FC Schalke 04 (GER)
Celtic FC (SCO) v Juventus (ITA)
Arsenal FC (ENG) v FC Bayern München (GER)
FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Borussia Dortmund (GER)
AC Milan (ITA) v FC Barcelona (ESP)
Real Madrid CF (ESP) v Manchester United FC (ENG)
Valencia CF (ESP) v Paris Saint-Germain FC (FRA)
FC Porto (POR) v Málaga CF (ESP)
Bayer Leverkusen have it all to do
Although Bayer Leverkusen avoided Chelsea they were offered another Champions League opponent in past competition winners Benfica Lisbon who are undefeated and atop the Portugese league. Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Völler knows how difficult his club will have it, “Chelsea would have been the worst case scenario but Benfica are not far behind. They played a good group phase and are very good in the league this season. It will be very difficult for us but we are not without a chance. With a good approach and form we have a good chance. We shouldn’t start thinking about the next round yet though if you are up against a team like Benfica.” Leverkusen and Benfica last met in the 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals, Benfica winning through on away goals after 1-1 and 4-4 draws.
Hannover content with draw
A cold trip to Moscow (where Anji play their home European matches) awaits Hannover as they face the up and coming Anji Makhachkala. Coach Mirko Slomka heaped praise on his Russian opponents and Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, “My counterpart Guus Hiddink has fantastic players, with Eto’o, Lassana Diarra and Yuri Zhirkov to name only a few of them. I think it’s an advantage for us to have the home game in the second leg, but nevertheless, Anji remains a big challenge for us.” Sporting director Jörg Schmadtke encourages Hannover fans to share the excitement but knows that it won’t be easy, “I can only encourage our fans to visit it [Moscow] when we play there. Anji have invested a lot of money in their team and their current success in the league, where they are second, only underlines that they have ambitions on the international stage as well.”
Borussia Mönchengladbach await tough test in Rome
The Italian side from the capital currently sits third in the league and enjoyed what can be considered a very successful season so far. They are undefeated in their last six league matches and are without a single loss in Europe this season. Still, Gladbach vice-president Rainer Bonhof is relishing the chance to play them and is confident they can get it done, “Lazio have had their ups and downs this season. A lot of that was down to the availability of Miroslav Klose. We know what we have to look at and prepare for. We have managed to defeat other good teams in the past and I feel that we can do it again against Lazio. Our away performances in the Europa League have been good and playing in Rome in February will be such a fantastic occasion for us.” A win for Gladbach and a win for Stuttgart can mean an all German encounter in the next round as the winners of each matchup was drawn in the next round. The two have played each other in Europe in the 1979/80 UEFA Cup semi finals.
An “attractive opponent” for Stuttgart
After sealing qualification to the quarter finals of the German Cup yesterday Stuttgart were given more news with arguably the easiest draw of the four Bundesliga clubs in Belgian side KRC Genk. Stuttgart were the last German team to secure qualification out of the group stage and despite never making it to the Round of 32 in the competition before are encouraged by their draw. Sporting Director Fredi Bobic was more than satisfied with the draw, “We can be satisfied that we drew an attractive opponent who played in the Champions League last year. Their stadium is small but very nice and should make for a great atmosphere. Of course it won’t be easy but we are not unlucky to have gotten this draw.” Stuttgart are chasing the ghosts of the past though as they have not won a two-legged springtime European tie in eight attempts since losing the 1997/98 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final, with their record in those 16 games reading W2 D4 L10.
Round of 32 Draw
Bayer Leverkusen – Benfica Lissabon
VfB Stuttgart – KRC Genk/Belgien
Anschi Machatschkala/Russland – Hannover 96
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Lazio Rom
Bate Borissow – Fenerbahce Istanbul
Inter Mailand – CFR Cluj/Rumänien
UD Levante – Olympiakos Piräus
Zenit St. Petersburg – FC Liverpool
Dynamo Kiew – Girondins Bordeaux
Newcastle United – Metalist Charkow
Atletico Madrid – Rubin Kasan/Russland
Ajax Amsterdam – Steaua Bukarest
FC Basel – Dnjpr Dnjpropetrowsk/Ukraine
Sparta Prag – FC Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur – Olympique Lyon
SSC Neapel – Viktoria Pilsen/Tschechien
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