The draw for the round of 16 in the Champions League was held Monday, and while favorites Real Madrid and Bayern Munich ended up with comfortable matchups, the top two teams in the Premier League had terrible luck. Group G winner Chelsea will play reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain, the most dangerous group runner-up that Chelsea could have possibly drawn.
PSG finished second in Group F behind Barcelona with 13 points, but only five teams finished the group stage with more points than PSG.
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Chelsea played PSG in the quarterfinals of last season’s Champions League, and Blues only survived thanks to an 87th minute goal from Demba Ba in the second leg. Chelsea is a far better team in 2014, but PSG poses a far greater challenge than Monaco, Basel, Shakhtar or Schalke would have.
Manchester City, meanwhile, barely made it into the knockout rounds by beating Roma on the final matchday and would be drawn against one of the group winners other than Chelsea.
Despite struggling early on in the group stage, Manchester City would still likely be the favorite in a tie against Porto, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund or Monaco (all group winners) – but the Premier League champions were matched with Barcelona.
Arsenal finished second in Group D behind Dortmund, but the Gunners actually received the best draw of any English team.
Arsenal will play French club Monaco, which won a relatively weak Group C. Monaco finished second in France last year with stars James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao leading the charge, but after selling Rodriguez after the World Cup and loaning Falcao to Manchester United (just two of 25 offseason departures), Monaco isn’t the same team.
Arsenal have been handed their best chance to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League in five years after they were paired in the last-16 with French side AS Monaco.
The draw went as well as Arsene Wenger could have hoped, with Monaco widely regarded as the weakest group winner in the final 16 given they topped Group C with just three wins from six and an alarming four goals.
However, for Wenger it is a trip down memory lane, given that he cut his teeth on the Mediterranean Coast as manager of the Principality’s football team.
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Wenger made his name at Monaco. Having been relegated with Nancy in 1987, he moved south and spent seven years at Stade Louis II, winning one French league title and steering the club to one European final and two semis.
Wenger admits he remains fond of his tenure with with Monaco, saying before the draw: “I have great memories from my time there. They gave me a chance when I was a very young manager. When I arrived they had never passed the first round in the European Cup; we had good times.”
The two clubs have never met competitively, although they did clash on the second day of this season’s Emirates Cup – the pre-season tournament that features at the Gunners’ home stadium in August – when a Radamel Falcao header sealed a 1-0 win for the Ligue 1 outfit. Of course, there is no Falcao to speak of in Monaco right now as the Colombian striker is on a season-long loan with Manchester United.