Wednesday, February 24News For London

Champions League draw an all too familiar affair

Today’s Champions League draw in Nyon saw some familiar fixtures, with several clubs having been paired before. Arsenal-Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain-Chelsea have been even played a couple of times in recent years.

Almost all the eight matches which have been drawn for the next round of the Champions League have been played before in recent seasons.

Funnily enough the first two clubs who emerged from the draw were Gent from Belgium, who participates for the first time, and Wolfsburg, who makes it to the last 16 for the first time.

Dieter Hecking, coach of Wolfsburg said on Uefa.com that he expects an interesting encounter. “Gent have asserted themselves in a group against Valencia and Lyon and as besides us are the surprise package in the round of 16. For both teams, the knockout stages of the Champions League are uncharted territory.”

Gent-Wolfsburg is about the only match which didn’t have any recent history.

Full draw:
Gent (BEL) v Wolfsburg (GER)
Roma (ITA) v Real Madrid (ESP)
Paris Saint-Germain(FRA) v Chelsea (ENG)
Arsenal (ENG) v Barcelona (ESP)
Juventus (ITA) v Bayern München (GER)
PSV (NED) v Atlético Madrid (ESP)
Benfica (POR) v Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) v Manchester City (ENG)

Next up was AS Roma-Real Madrid, a game which was played in the 2007-2008 season in the last round of 16, in where Roma emerged as the surprising triumpher (by winning twice 2-1). For the upcoming fixure, Roma’s CEO Italo Zanzi seemed to be not too worried about the draw, as he commented at Gazzetta.it that every team in this phase of the competition is good. “We are confident, both as far as the Serie A and the Champions League is concerned. We’ll be ready for Ronaldo and Real Madrid.”

Emilio Butragueño expects an even match picture: World Travel & Tourism Council
Emilio Butragueño expects an even match       picture: World Travel & Tourism Council

Emilio Butragueno, manager (and former player) of Real Madrid said it “will be a difficult match for both clubs. Roma is a competitive side with experience and quality. It won’t be easy for us.”

The next two games of the draw, which was carried out by Uefa’s general Secretary Gianni Infantino and former player Javier Zanetti, saw some very familiar fixtures. Paris Saint-Germain-Chelsea was one of the most exciting games in last year’s round of 16, where the Parisians eventually progressed to the quarter finals.

PSG defeated Chelsea in last years last round of sixteen        picture: @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London

PSG defeated Chelsea in last years last round of sixteen                              picture: @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London

Apart from last season both teams met in the quarter finals (2013-2014) and the group stages (2004-2005) before. Olivier Létang, sporting director of PSG said at lequipe.fr: ”By now everyone is used to considering this as a classic match in the Champions League. As you know, yesterday our president recalled that our aim is to go as far as possible. Chelsea is a tough opponent, but we’ll be preparing ourselves for these two encounters.”

Arsenal-Barcelona has been played before a few times too. First of all, in 2006, both teams met in the final, when Barcelona won 2-1. Subsequently, they met in the quarter finals (2009-2010) and the round of sixteen (2010-2011). At both occasions Barcelona won.

Barcelona and Arsenal met each other in the 2006 Champions League final Picture: siarach (Cropped & modified by Qwghlm)
Barcelona and Arsenal met each other in the 2006 Champions League final                                 Picture: siarach (Cropped & modified by Qwghlm)

For the match in 2016, Arsenal will try to make it fourth time lucky and gain a place in the quarter finals. Arsenal club secretary David Miles said on Reuters.com: “It is not easy and the one (Barcelona) to avoid at this stage, but it is up to us and we will give them a game. Messi, Neymar, Suarez… you could go on, but we have our own world class players and I am sure they will be fantastic games in London and in Barcelona.”

Barcelona director Albert Soler added “Arsenal and Barcelona have a similar style of play. The fans will enjoy themselves, we’re two sides with a similar understanding of the game. They will be two great matches. We must have maximum respect for Arsenal.”

It will be one of the main games where everyone will look forward too. Another one, surely, is the contest between Juventus and Bayern München.

Both teams met before in the Champions League as well, when Bayern defeated the Italians in the quarter final of the 2012-2013 edition. Pavel Nedved, current vicepresident of Juventus, said at Gazzetta.it that his club have a chance of beating the Germans this time. ”This team (Juventus) has the means to do well in Europa, even though it will be very difficult against Bayern. It’s not an insurmountable challenge, in football you never know. We have to affront these challenges with a strong will and the knowledge that we’re up against a very strong side but that no one is unbeatable.”

The other three draws of the last sixteen in the Champions League are also full of history. Benfica won against Zenit St. Petersburg in the last round of sixteen in 2012, although the Russians beat the Lisbon side twice in last year’s group stages. Atlético won two group games against PSV in the 2008-2009 season, while Dynamo Kyiv beat Manchester City in a round of 16 encounter in the Europa League (2010-2011).

The eventual winner of the Champions League will net a significant amount of money, after the Uefa announced the incentives for all the participants earlier this season. First of all, there are fixed amounts for all the competing teams.

  • Group stage fee €12m
  • Group stage performance €1.5m win / €500k draw
  • Round of 16 €5.5m
  • Quarter-finals €6m
  • Semi-finals €7m
  • Final €15m winners / €10.5m runners-up

data: Uefa.com

On top of that, the winner of the 2015 UEFA Super Cup Barcelona was due to receive €4m, while runners-up Sevilla were entitled to €3m.

Besides the fixed amounts, clubs also gain revenue from the so-called market pool (€482.9m).

It means that apart from the familiar fixtures, it’s also the familiar clubs who earn the most. For that reason you would not begrudge smaller clubs like Gent or Wolfsburg to do well in this year’s Champions League edition.