Champions League: Messi vs Ronaldo again as Man United paired against PSG. A mouthwatering tie pits two of the greatest players of all time in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Manchester United have been drawn to face Ligue 1 leaders Paris St-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League. Holders Chelsea have been drawn to face French champions Lille, while six-time winners Liverpool come up against Red Bull Salzburg.
Premier League champions Manchester City take on last season’s Europa League winners Villarreal. Pep Guardiola’s side have never won the competition and were beaten in last season’s final by Chelsea.
The draw appeared to suffer an administrative error when United had initially been drawn against Villarreal – they were ineligible to face each other as they were in the same group.
The first legs will be spread out on 15, 16, 22 and 23 February, with the second legs on 8, 9, 15 and 16 March. Chelsea are the only English side to play their first leg at home, with the other three all away after winning their groups.
A major change from this season sees the away goals rule removed, so ties level after 180 minutes will go to extra time. If the teams still cannot be separated after the additional 30 minutes, then it goes to a penalty shootout.
This season’s final takes place in St Petersburg, Russia, on 28 May.
Champions League last-16 draw:
Benfica v Real Madrid
Villarreal v Manchester City
Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich
Red Bull Salzburg v Liverpool
Inter Milan v Ajax
Sporting Lisbon v Juventus
Chelsea v Lille
PSG v Manchester United
‘A meeting of two greats’
Phil McNulty, chief football writer
Manchester United, of all the Premier League clubs, arguably drew the short straw from a somewhat chaotic Champions League last-16 draw at they were paired with Paris St-Germain to set up another meeting between the two greats Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo, who has won the competition five times with United and Real Madrid, has inspired progress into the last 16 while Ballon d’Or winner Messi’s primary mission after signing for PSG from Barcelona is to help them land the Champions League for the first time, having claimed it four times at the Nou Camp.
In a game not short on narratives, PSG will be led by the manager many believe may well be at Old Trafford next season, Mauricio Pochettino.
It is a tough draw for United’s interim boss Ralf Rangnick but not without hope as PSG looked a fractured, inconsistent side when winning and then losing against Manchester City in the group phase – although aside from Messi he must also work out a way to combat Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, if the Brazilian is fit.
It will also revive memories of United’s remarkable 3-1 win in Paris in March 2019 that saw them overhaul a 2-0 first-leg deficit to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
For the other Premier League clubs, there will be a sense of cautious optimism as life could have been much harder, with Chelsea facing French champions Lille while Liverpool are paired with heavy underdogs Red Bull Salzburg.
Manchester City will also be quietly confident of progress against Villarreal but manager Pep Guardiola will be wary of last season’s Europa League winners as they are led by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, who has a knack of producing big results in European competitions.
Source – BBC News