Belfast Telegraph

PSG's revenge mission will give Chelsea a real test

By Steven Beacom

The group stages are over. Now we can get down to the real business of the Champions League and Europa League with some cracking knockout ties. Let's take a look.

PSG v Chelsea: Jose Mourinho said he would fancy this draw. Yeah and I'm Lewis Hamilton! This is the toughest last 16 test possible for Chelsea. PSG were eliminated on away goals by the Blues in the quarter-finals last season and will be seeking revenge. With high class players, led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they won't be short of confidence.

Chelsea are a superior outfit to last time around with Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas now in their ranks, but even so this is going to be an epic battle.

It might be decided by the performances of David Luiz, who Chelsea sold to PSG for £50 million. He's prone to mistakes and Costa has the quality to make him pay.

Beacom verdict: Chelsea... just

Man City v Barcelona: Last season Barcelona showed the Manchester men they lagged behind Europe's elite. After edging their way into the last 16 with back to back victories over Bayern Munich and Roma, however, Manuel Pellegrini's side should approach the tie with more confidence than last year.

City will make it tougher for Barca, but with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, the Catalan Kings should still have too much.

Beacom verdict: Barcelona

Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid: The Spanish champions reached the final last time and will be thinking they could go all the way again.

Beacom verdict: Atletico

Juventus v Borussia Dortmund: A big factor will be if Jurgen Klopp is still Dortmund boss in February. Another will be if the Germans can stop the wonderful Andrea Pirlo.

Beacom verdict: Juventus

Schalke 04 v Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo is already thinking about how many goals he'll score. Roberto Di Matteo won the Champions League as Chelsea boss in 2012. Guiding Schalke to victory over Real would be an even better achievement.

Beacom verdict: Real Madrid

Shakhtar Donetsk v Bayern Munich: Class will tell here. Bayern have more of it.

Beacom verdict: Bayern

Arsenal v Monaco: Finally a lucky draw for the Gunners and an enjoyable one for Arsene Wenger, facing the team he managed for seven years. See you in the last eight, Arsene.

Beacom verdict: Arsenal

Basel v Porto: Basel to cause a surprise again.

Beacom verdict: Basel

Europa League: Celtic's last 32 tie with Inter Milan will invoke memories of the 1967 European Cup success against the Italians. It'll be different in 2015. Inter to win just like Fiorentina, who will defeat Tottenham. Everton, though, will beat Young Boys and Liverpool will knock out Besiktas.

Belfast Telegraph


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