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Champions League draw: Barcelona, Manchester City to square off
NYON, Switzerland — Barcelona was drawn Monday to face in-form Manchester City and its strong contingent of Spanish internationals in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Spanish champions will first travel to Etihad Stadium, where Manchester United and Arsenal have already been routed in the Premier League this season.
“I think Barcelona will be very concerned that they have drawn us,” said Man City coach Manuel Pellegrini, who spent the past nine seasons in the Spanish league. “They are not the team of two years ago.”
Chelsea will have an emotional reunion with former striker Didier Drogba when it plays Galatasaray, and defending champion Bayern Munich was paired with Arsenal in the last 16 for the second straight year.
Both Man City and Arsenal ended up with tough draws after finishing second in their Champions League groups.
“No one of the (seeded teams) wanted to find Man City or Arsenal,” said former Barcelona playmaker Luis Figo, who helped conduct the draw. “It’s bad luck for Barcelona and Bayern Munich.”
Also, nine-time winner Real Madrid will face Schalke, Manchester United got a favorable draw against Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund will face Zenit St. Petersburg, AC Milan will play Atletico Madrid, and Paris Saint-Germain will meet Bayer Leverkusen.
The first legs will be played Feb. 18-19 and 25-26, with the return matches set for March 11-12 and 18-19.
Man City is the only newcomer to the knockout round Champions League, and wasted an opportunity to be seeded when Pelligrini did not realize that one more goal in its 3-2 win in Munich last week would have won the group ahead of Bayern.
Now, it opens the program against Barcelona at home, where the team is scoring on average more than four goals a game.
“Pelligrini is a very, very good coach,” Barcelona director Amador Bernabeu said. “We know from his coaching in Spain that when we play him we have problems all the time.”
Manchester City’s director of football is Txiki Begiristain, who joined the English club from Barcelona.
“If you want to be champions you need to beat the best ones,” Begiristain said. “We have to score in away games in the Champions League.”
Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho said last week that Drogba should return to Stamford Bridge. The Ivory Coast forward’s last kick as a Chelsea player was the penalty shootout winner in the 2012 final against Bayern.
The German champions have a re-match with Arsenal, which won 2-0 in Munich last season after Bayern had cruised to a 3-1 win in London.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
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