Revitalised City confident of turning Barca over

Manchester City should have nothing to fear from drawing Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League, according to director of football Txiki Begiristain.

City scraped through their group behind Bayern Munich, and so were not seeded for the knockout stages, with Chelsea paired against French Champions Paris St Germain while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be reunited with his former club Monaco.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men were beaten by Barca at the same stage last season, losing at home and away with a man sent off in each tie.

However, after coming through against the odds from Group E after winning a decisive final game against Roma, which followed on from a memorable 3-2 victory over Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium, Begiristain sees no reason why City should not have confidence against a club he knows well having served at the Camp Nou as both a player and director.

“Every tie in that draw is the same, it is fantastic, so we are looking forward to it,” he said.

“We have plenty of confidence with the way we qualified beating Bayern Munich at home and Roma away, so the players will be working hard to get fit and arrive in confidence for those games.

“We have improved our squad from last season and we have some real quality up front.”

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique said the Spanish giants expected nothing less than the sternest of tests from the Premier League champions.

“They are a hard rival, one of the hardest that we could have asked for,” he said. “It’s going to be a very complicated tie, of that I’m certain.

“Playing in February against a team like Manchester City, it will be key to go into the game in top form.

“I always think positively and I am just thinking of winning the tie against Manchester City.

“We will look for a win by playing well, but there are games where you can’t play the way you want to.”

Wenger had joked he would “go to church” ahead of the draw in Nyon, Switzerland, hoping for a change in fortune having been paired with Bayern for the past two seasons.

The footballing gods appeared to be smiling on the Gunners, as Monaco were considered one of the weaker seeds, having come through Group C ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, but scoring just four goals.

Chelsea’s opponents PSG, meanwhile, lie second in Ligue 1 this season, and were runners-up to Barca in Group F with their only defeat coming at the Camp Nou.

Jose Mourinho’s side defeated PSG in last season’s quarter-finals, winning through on away goals.

Chelsea club secretary David Barnard said: “All the teams in the draw are there by merit and PSG are no exception. Obviously they are known to us because we played them in the quarter-finals last year.

“Each match that comes along is a totally different scenario with different parameters.

“There is the added ingredient of David Luiz playing for PSG, who is fondly remembered by us for the Champions League final [in 2012].

“Jose Mourinho said before the draw he would like to see PSG for our supporters because of the travel arrangements and the logistics.”

Luiz transferred between the two teams after the World Cup and PSG sporting director Olivier Letang said: “I think David will enjoy playing again in Stamford Bridge and we hope we will have revenge on Chelsea after last season.”

Elsewhere, holders Real Madrid face Schalke in the last 16, with city rivals and beaten finalists Atletico drawn against Leverkusen.

The third Bundesliga side in the draw, Borussia Dortmund, take on Juventus in a repeat of the 1996 final while Basle face Porto.

Group winners will be away in the first legs, to be played on February 17, 18, 24 or 25, with the second legs on March 10, 11, 17 or 18, with the ties all staggered to maximise television coverage.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox