The draw for the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League first knockout round continued the sense of déjà vu that also applied to the group stage, with holders Real Madrid and arch-rivals Barcelona being paired with familiar opponents.
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For no club has the air of familiarity been more acute this season than Manchester City who, having been pooled with Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow for the second consecutive campaign, now also face Barcelona in the last 16 just as they did in 2013-14.
Last term, Barcelona triumphed 4-1 on aggregate and again the first leg will be played at the Etihad Stadium where goals from Lionel Messi (penalty) and Dani Alves earned the Spanish club a 2-0 advantage on their previous visit.
Real Madrid have already indicated that facing the same last-16 opponents as last season is a positive omen in their quest to retain the trophy.
Although unable to repeat the emphatic nature of their 6-1 win away from home against German club Schalke last year on the way to a 9-2 aggregate success, a 2-0 victory in the first leg this time has put the holders well on course to qualify.
quote Real Madrid as one of their 11/4 joint favourites to become the first club since AC Milan in 1990 to retain the European Cup, along with Bayern Munich who drew 0-0 away from home against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Of the other two English clubs still involved, Arsenal will probably be happier with their current situation having been drawn against their manager Arsene Wenger’s former club Monaco, whereas more déjà vu is involved for Chelsea.
Last season Jose Mourinho’s side had to recover from a 3-2 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals and went through with a 2-0 home win, while this time around they drew 1-1 in the Parc des Princes and appeared somewhat fortunate to do so, which means Chelsea cannot afford to be complacent in the return match at Stamford Bridge.
Schalke v Real is not the only Germany v Madrid clash thrown up by the draw because Bayer Leverkusen were paired with last season’s runners-up Atletico.
The fourth German club still involved, Borussia Dortmund, are up against Italian champions Juventus, with the remaining tie being poised at 1-1 between Basel, who knocked out Liverpool, and Porto.
2014-15 UEFA Champions League fixture schedule (all kick-off times 19:45 GMT)
Last-16 first legs
Tuesday February 24
Juventus v Borussia Dortmund
Manchester City v Barcelona
Wednesday February 25
Arsenal v Monaco
Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid
Last-16 second legs
Tuesday March 10
Porto v Basel
Real Madrid v Schalke
Wednesday March 11
Bayern Munich v Shakhtar Donetsk
Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain
Tuesday March 17
Atletico Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen
Monaco v Arsenal
Wednesday March 18
Barcelona v Manchester City
Borussia Dortmund v Juventus
March 20 – Quarter-final draw