The biggest firecracker UCL fixtures to watch out for

By Aiyeku Timothy December 17, 2015 10:51

The biggest firecracker UCL fixtures to watch out for

The much awaited UEFA Champions League draws for the round of 16 ended up leaving a few fans with sweaty palms. It looks difficult to predict who will scale through the next round in a lot of the ties irrespective of form or familiarity based on the history of previous meetings.

A lot can be said but I will limit our purview to the perceived tough games. These games throw up the likely favourites for this year’s trophy.

Intriguingly the focus is away from teams like Wolfsburg, Gent, PSV and Zenit. These presumed minnows would be flattered to have a relatively clear path to the Quarter Finals of Europe’s biggest club competition.

Arsenal v Barcelona

messi against arsenal players

Immediately the draw was made, this tie flooded headlines as it was a fixture that would rather be left in the past owing to the dire fortunes the Gunners have had with Messi and Co.

Arsenal rep, David Miles jokingly disclosed “I was told by my family, ‘if you bring back Barcelona don’t bother coming home.’” To be sincere, that was a true revelation of the mind of all well meaning Emirates faithful. The Messi, Suarez, Neymar, MSN, combo is better imagined than experienced.

Both teams have met thrice in the last decade. Arsene Wenger’s team lost the 2006 final to the Blaugrana as well as the 2009/10 quarter-finals and the 2010/11 round of 16 game.

With the current form and quality of players at the Emirates this season, Wenger will be banking on availability of Alex Sanchez (a familiar face at the Camp Nou) Mesut Ozil, Oliver Giroud, Francois Coquelin (assuming he is fit by then) and the experienced Petr Cech to change the story.

Interestingly, Messi has faced Čech 5 times and has never put a goal past the giant. Arsenal fans may have to turn spiritual to ensure that this stat is sustained.

Juventus v Bayern Munich

Bayern vs juventus

This tie may not make headlines as a few of the others but it is a heavy clash. The menacing Bundesliga giants would be looking to avenge a crushing loss to the Bianconeri in the Quarterfinals 3 years ago.

The Serie A champions and last season’s UCL runners up, Juventus will welcome Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman back to Turin following their summer moves.

The deadly Bayern attack will be challenging for Juventus who are trying to resurge after showing mixed form. Nobody gave the Italians a chance of getting to the final last season, could they pull another surprise?

Paris St-Germain v Chelsea

Ibrahimovic surrounded by Chelsea players

Chelsea will face PSG for the third consecutive season, and should not be shocked after Mourinho claimed he was ready to face any team (granted, he might get the sack soon.)

The Special One will be hoping to avoid last year’s embarrassment. He had to brave the loss as well as take it on the chin when PSG striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic called the Blues “babies.” Stamford Bridge is creaking and might as well be falling down with the relegation only a point away.

The French side is keen to assert themselves amongst Europe’s elite and they would like to crush Chelsea to make that point. Captain John Terry and his men have however won the trophy amidst great adversity before. The difference then was relegation did not become a description for them.