Rafael Benitez predicts Champions League winner will come from among heavyweight clubs
Thursday 20 December 2012
Rafael Benitez insists the winners of the Champions League will be one of Europe's traditional heavyweight clubs.
The draw for the last-16 stage takes place in Nyon this morning, with Manchester United and Arsenal the two Barclays Premier League clubs left in the competition.
Benitez, interim manager of ousted holders Chelsea, refuses to consider rising forces such as Shakhtar Donetsk and Paris St Germain as genuine contenders.
"Barcelona, Real Madrid, the English teams, Bayern Munich and Juventus are strong teams," said Benitez, winner of the competition with Liverpool in 2005.
"Obviously they're the big names and they'll be there again, it won't change too much.
"You can find a surprise in some seasons but because those teams are so strong, I don't see there being any surprises this year."
The possibilities facing Arsenal after finishing as group runners-up are alarming, with Barcelona, PSG, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Bayern Munich their potential opponents.
United will want to avoid the competition's second favourites Real Madrid most of all, but they can also draw Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia or Celtic.
Celtic defied all expectations to qualify as group runners-up behind Barcelona and will face one of United, Malaga, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke or PSG.
Chelsea are second favourites behind Atletico Madrid to win the Europa League - their reward for finishing third in their Champions League group - with the draw for the second tier of European football also being held this morning.
The Blues are joined in the last 32 by Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle, although none of the Premier League rivals are able to face each other at this stage.
Atletico are possible opponents for Chelsea and Liverpool, while big names such as Inter Milan, Napoli, Benfica and Ajax remain in the competition.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United teased by Monaco after claims they could have signed 'Luis Suarez of Neymar' instead or £58m Anthony Martial
Former Manchester United star Karel Poborsky goes full hipster
England vs San Marino, Euro 2016 qualifier: Jamie Vardy cleared to make first start for country
Manchester United hit back at Real Madrid by claiming they let David De Gea 'slip through their fingers into the back of the net'
Serie B introduces 'green cards' to promote good behaviour, fair play and sportsmanship
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees