Champions League draw: Arsenal and Chelsea face tough tasks

The Champions League draw has thrown up some intriguing clashes in the last 16, with a host of major European heavyweights to go toe-to-toe in the new year.

Arsenal, having overcome the odds to rescue a botched group campaign and qualify, have been handed the short straw and partnered with Barcelona.

The reigning European champions remain the team to beat and at times this term have again been unplayable when the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez have all clicked.

The Gunners will know that if they can forge a plan to oust the Catalans they could be in the running to win the entire tournament, but it is easier said than done.

Chelsea take on a familiar foe in the form of Paris Saint-Germain, who they have now drawn in the knockout stages for three consecutive years.

The French powerhouses eliminated Jose Mourinho’s charges last term and have strengthened since, with Laurent Blanc’s men dominant domestically and looking capable of putting forward a European challenge.

The English champions have had a dramatic fall from grace meanwhile, with European participation their own solace due to their Premier League woes.

Manchester City were handed the most favourable tie of all the English sides, taking on Dynamo Kiev, but their fans will not be able to attend the away leg as it is set to be played behind closed doors to punish the hosts.

Bayern Munich’s clash with Juventus is another that stands out, with the respective champions of Germany and Italy to meet.

Pep Guardiola is potentially in his last season with the Bundesliga club and desperate for European glory, while Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman will face their old employers.

Roma’s resurgence will be tested as they face an unpredictable Real Madrid side, while elsewhere in the Spanish capital Atletico will lock horns with Manchester United’s conquerors PSV Eindhoven.

Plucky Belgian outfit Ghent have been rewarded for overcoming the odds in the pool stage by being handed a date with Wolfsburg and will fancy their chances of continuing their unexpected success.

Finally, Russian side Zenit St Petersburg were on fire in their group and will hope to continue this against a Benfica team with plenty of European experience.

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