Nightmare draw for English clubs
Italian tests for Arsenal and Chelsea...and it is also tough for Manchester pair
Conspiracy theorists may have suspected the hand of Michel Platini, the supposedly Anglophobic Uefa president, behind yesterday's draws for the first knockout rounds of the Champions League and Europa League. Jokers might suggest it was David Cameron.
Either way, the quintet of English survivors were presented with such devilishly difficult ties that Britain's footballers could be out of Europe by the end of the round. In the premier competition, Italian obstacles face both clubs. Arsenal play Milan, the Serie A champions and serial Champions League winners, while Chelsea have to succeed where Manchester City failed, and overcome Napoli. The junior competition, meanwhile, threw up ties worthy of the Champions League. In a clash of fallen giants, Manchester United will play fellow multiple European Cup winners Ajax; Manchester City meet the Europa League holders Porto, and the players, staff and fans of Stoke City should relish the opportunity to play in one of Europe's most evocative stadia – Valencia's La Mestalla – where Chelsea drew in the autumn.
With the Champions League draw also sending Real Madrid to Moscow in February, never an easy trip, Barcelona's status as favourites hardened significantly. They will play Bayer Leverkusen. "Perfect", said their president Sandro Rosell. It was not a sentiment his English counterparts echoed.
Napoli v Chelsea, Milan v Arsenal
Stoke City v Valencia, Porto v Man City, Ajax v Man United
Latest in Sport
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Sir Alex Ferguson reveals who he thinks is better between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election