Well today the draw for the Champions League was made and the round of 16 fixtures were confirmed as follows:
Manchester City v Barcelona
Bayer Leverkusen v Paris Saint Germain
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
AC Milan v Atletico Madrid
Olympiakos v Manchester United
Zenit St Petersburg v Borussia Dortmund
Galatasaray v Chelsea
Schalke v Real Madrid
There are some truly mouth-watering ties in their, including of course Arsenal v Bayern Munich.
There was a lot of negativity surrounding Arsenal’s qualification from the group stage, with a lot of Arsenal fans miffed that we didn’t have a more disciplined approach, which would have been required to get at least a draw in Naples. Because of the lack of ambition on the night (or tiredness in the squad) we didn’t have enough not to lose. Because of that, we finished second in the group and looking at the draw now, could have faced Zenit St Petersburg and had a reunion with Andrei Arshavin.
As it stands, we face current European Champions Bayern Munich, who are still the best team in Europe for many people, including myself. I would have much preferred a tie against Barcelona, Real Madrid or Paris Saint Germain.
But if you’re going to be philosophical about it, this is the Champions League (not the Europa League) and this is the place where the truly best teams are. The massive games are the games we wait for and it’s a cliche, but if you want to win it you have the play the best teams eventually (unless you’re AVB winning the Europa League with Porto).
Even if Arsenal do get knocked out to Bayern, at least we can say that we have had a very good European campaign. In the group stages we’ve had to face Napoli, Marseille and Dortmund, and now Bayern. In there alone there are 6 blockbuster fixtures we’ve been involved in.
Whereas when you look at Manchester United and Chelsea, their campaigns have been boring and lets be honest, a bit of a joke. They’ve faced teams such as Olympiakos, Galatasaray, Bayer Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Sociedad, Schalke, Basel and Steaua Bucuresti. You can hardly claim they had and “blockbuster” ties that people were flocking to watch. In fact you would probably have a difficult time finding anyone bothered to watch those games unless they were United or Chelsea supporters.