Man United, Arsenal and Celtic in for Champions League toils
Manchester United’s clash with Real Madrid is unarguably the tie of the last-16 of the Champions League, but there are still plenty of mouth-watering clashes for punters to sink their teeth into.
In addition to United’s tough luck, Arsenal and Celtic have got mammoth tasks on their hands to progress to the quarter-finals, with Ladbrokes offering a price as short as 6/4 that all three remaining British teams advance no further in the competition.
Arsenal must overcome beaten finalists in two of the past three Champions Leagues, Bayern Munich, while Celtic have been handed a glamorous two-legged affair with last season’s invincible Scudetto winners Juventus.
Judging by the record books, it’s the Gunners who have the biggest mountain to climb.
Not since Norwich emerged victorious from Munich’s Olympiastadion in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup has an English team beaten Bayern on their own patch; 12 have tried and failed since. Compound this with the fact that Arsene Wenger’s men have lost seven of their last eight European knockout away days, whereas Bayern have claimed the spoils in 17 of their previous 18 home matches in continental competition; Arsenal supporters need fear the worst.
Celtic, on the other hand, are not faced with quite so daunting a task when they take on the Old Lady.
They conquered Barcelona in front of their own fans in the group stage proving they can give anyone in the world a game on their own patch and they’ve got the better of Juve in both of their home games in this competition, bagging five goals in the process. With their fans at their raucous best, it’ll be interesting to see if the Italians can cope better than the Catalan club in the Celtic Park cauldron.
Another big tie sees Barcelona, the perennial favourites for the crown, take on AC Milan in what will be the sixth renewal of hostilities in this competition since the turn of the century. The Italians have won just two of these contests and have only knocked the four-time winners out on one occasion.
A dark horse with genuine title credentials is German champions Dortmund who cannot be ruled out given the way they expertly navigated the Group of Death. They travel to Shakhtar to begin their knockout campaign in a tie that will certainly churn out some sumptuous football given the attacking mantras both teams adhere to.
The draw in full is as follows (ironically, it was identical to the practice draw conducted the day before):
Galatasaray v Schalke 04
Celtic v Juventus
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
Shakhtar Donetsk v Borussia Dortmund
AC Milan v Barcelona
Real Madrid v Man Utd
Valencia v PSG
FC Porto v Malaga
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date