Champions League last 16 a repeat of mock draw

The Champions League draw for the last 16 has seen the same teams pitted against one another as yesterday’s mock-up.

The draw, conducted by Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino in Nyon, conjured up mouthwatering ties such as Real Madrid – Manchester United and AC Milan – Barcelona.

But it had an air of familiarity to it, as Wednesday’s rehearsal gave us the exact same eight ties, with Bayern Munich also facing Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund playing Shakhtar Donetsk.

The first leg of the 16 of the Champions League will be played on February 12, 13, 19 or 20, with the reverse ties on March 5, 6, 19 or 20.

Real Madrid to face Manchester United, Barcelona to take on AC Milan – the Champions League last 16 draw in full

The draw for the round of 16 of the Champions League took place in Nyon, Switzerland on Thursday, and some enticing ties await in the first knock-out stage.

Primera Division champions Real Madrid have been paired with Manchester United as Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford.

Furthermore, 2011 winners Barcelona will have to deal with Italian giants AC Milan in what promises to be yet another mouthwatering tie.

Last season’s finalists Bayern Munich take on Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal as they aim to make it to their third final in five years’ time.

Serie A powerhouse Juventus will have to deal with Celtic in the first knock-out stage, while Schalke meet Turkish giants Galatasaray.

Group winners will be away in the first legs on 12-13 and 19-20 February and at home in the return matches on 5-6 and 12-13 March.

The draw for the quarter-finals will be held on March 15, and the tournament concludes at Wembley Stadium on May 25.

More to follow…


Bundesliga Team of the Season so far

We have reached the halfway point in the Bundesliga season, and so far the division has served up a footballing treat.

The standout side have been Bayern Munich, who have enjoyed a record-breaking start to the campaign and go into the winter hiatus nine points clear at the top. Unsurprisingly, the Bavarians are heavily represented in International’s best XI from Germany for the first 17 matchdays.

In goal, we have Rene Adler. Frozen out at at Bayer Leverkusen, the Germany international has enjoyed a renaissance at Hamburg, putting in a number of fine performances for Thorsten Fink’s side, despite their leaky defence.

At the back, we have our two first Bayern stars. Dante moved to the Allianz Arena from Borussia Monchengladbach and has since cemented himself in the first team, while Philipp Lahm has been as dependable as ever at full-back. They are joined by Gonzalo Castro, instrumental for Leverkusen this year, and Timm Klose, who has starred for Nurnberg.

The midfield five is dominated by FCB. The only player who does not represent the Roten is Aaron Hunt of Werder Bremen. Alongside him we have Toni Kroos, who finally seems to have found his best form on a consistent basis.

Slightly ahead of them stand Thomas Muller, who looks a completely different player to last season, Xherdan Shaqiri, who has made a seamless start to his Bundesliga career, and Franck Ribery, the star of the season so far, directly contributing to 11 goals in 12 games.

The division’s surprise package has been Mainz, and star striker Adam Szalai leads the line thanks to his fantastic form for the club.

Moller: A German team can win the Champions League

By Hassan Talib Haji

Ex-Germany international Andreas Moller believes the three German teams in the Champions League have the quality to go all the way in the competition.

Bayern Munich, Schalke and Borussia Dortmund all won their respective groups to book their tickets for the knockout stages, and Moller is optimistic about their chances of bringing the trophy back to Germany for the first time since Bayern’s win in 2001.

“I think all three teams can go far. They have all been very good in the group stages. They now have the opportunity to achieve something extraordinary in the Champions League. There’s a good chance that a German team will win the competition again,” Moller told

“There’s no team in the Champions League that’s a cut above the rest in my opinion. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus are obviously strong teams, and they are the favourites for me. However, the German teams are on the same level.

“German football hasn’t been this good in ages. The performances in Europe confirm the strength of the Bundesliga. The way all German teams have progressed in Europe is quite impressive. There’s no question about it, the Bundesliga is the strongest league in Europe at the moment.”

Bayern, BVB and Schalke will find out their opponents in the Champions League round of 16 during Thursday morning’s draw in Nyon, Switzerland.

The €110m holy grail: What the Champions League is worth…

By Alex Young

With the draw for the Champions League set to take place on Thursday in Nyon, players from each club will be watching in anticipation to see who and where they are set to play in the New Year.

And this is no different for the non-playing staff for each team. However, those at the top of the club hierarchy will also have one eye – or perhaps even more – on the difficulty of the possible route and the chances of advancing to the latter stages of the competition, but not just to measure the likeliness of success, for potential financial windfalls.

The top three-placed teams in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League group stage and, based on pre-season estimates from Uefa, each of the 32 clubs participating are guaranteed £7 million, with an additional £800,000 if they win and £400,000 if they draw any of their six matches.

The fourth-placed team in the Premier League qualifies for the play-off round and receives a guaranteed £1.7m if they progress or not.

However, each club are then allocated a “market pool” television revenue figure, which reflects the size of the audience of each competitor. The bigger the club, the bigger the figure – for example Celtic will have earned a large sum this season by facing Barcelona.

Manchester United, who were eliminated at the group stage last season raked in £28m due to the stature of the club – increased television and matchday revenue – with Old Trafford earning well over £3m in ticket sales each game.

In comparison, last season’s winners of the Europa League, Atletico Madrid earned £8.5m while Fulham – who were eliminated at the group stage – were handed £2.2m.

Tom Cannon, professor at Liverpool University, elaborates: “Last season’s winners Chelsea earned around £15m for reaching the semi-finals, a further £5m for reaching the final and upwards of £20m for winning the tournament.

“With the expansion of the Club World Cup to four games, the victorious club can rank in upwards of £90m in total.”

Participation in the Club World Cup is actually, financially, more valuable than winning the tournament due to the increased international profile and sponsorship revenue and the increased shirt sales that go with it. Another possible positive from Champions League participation.

Indeed, when Tottenham reached the knockout stages of the competition in 2011, their then-new shirt sponsor South African bank Investec was keen to reassess their deal due to the increased global exposure.

“In terms of global exposure the European Cup is just fantastic because we have businesses in 15 countries,” Raymond van Niekirk, Investec’s global head of marketing, explained. “If I’m not mistake the European Cup is televised in 200 countries… the European Cup has that extra glamour.”

And the tournament is not just beneficial to clubs, but also Uefa. The governing body earn around £800m more from the Champions League than the Europa League, with £1bn received in comparison to around £200m from the second-tier tournament last season alone.

“Put it this way,” Cannon continues. “Manchester City recently lodged pre-tax losses of £93.4m. They earned £22m from Champions League revenue after being eliminated at the group stage. The estimated further £70m+ available for winning the competition is almost enough to completely wipe their losses off for an entire financial year.”

And for a club with an estimated wage bill of £174m, second only to Chelsea in the Premier League, the ability to clear such funds is crucial.

The financial windfall is so great for Uefa that president Michel Platini has revealed that discussion over expanding the competition from 32 to 64 teams have taken place – with no decision expected before 2014.

So, what is the Champions League worth to those 16 clubs waiting patiently in Nyon? Football, glamour, success? As in life, everything revolves around money.

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