Football

Chelsea, Real Madrid pay price for sloppy group stage campaign

Champions League draw pits Chelsea against Barca, Real Madrid with PSG

Chelsea have paid the ultimate price for their sloppy finish to their Champions League group campaign, after drawing the team almost everyone wants to avoid in the Round of 16 - Barcelona.

Antonio Conte will rue the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in their final group game last Tuesday, a result that allowed Roma - who will play Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk - to leapfrog them to the top of the group.

The Italian, however, put on a brave front during yesterday's pre-match press conference for tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) Premier League clash with Huddersfield Town.

He said: "It's a draw and our reaction must be positive. As I know very well, you must be ready to face everything and in this case, you must be ready to face Barcelona.

"We must be ready to play at home and away. It is impossible to see an advantage to play at home the first game," he added, when asked if it helps that his side will host Barcelona first in the two-legged knockout tie.

"When you play Barcelona, you must play with 120 per cent at home and away, if you want to go to the next round."

The Blues aren't the only ones cursing their luck following yesterday's draw in Nyon, Switzerland.

Holders and 12-time winners Real Madrid will have to overcome a sizeable obstacle when the knockout stage commences in February, after being pitted against Group B winners Paris Saint-Germain.

Real legend Emilio Butragueno said that the clash would have been a fitting final.

Said the Spaniard, now the club's director of institutional relations: "This could have been the final, given the power of the two clubs.

"The last 16 is a bit early, we could say.

"Logically, we are both challengers for the trophy."

Big-spending PSG were earlier tipped as many people's favourites to win the competition.

Instead, Manchester City, who chalked up a record 14th successive Premier League victory yesterday morning (Singapore time), are now listed as favourites after being handed a tie with Swiss club Basel.

Tottenham Hotspur, who topped their group ahead of Real Madrid thanks to a 3-1 victory at Wembley, have a tricky obstacle to overcome in the form of Serie A champions and last season's runners-up Juventus.

  •  

    • Basel v Manchester City
    • Bayern Munich v Besiktas
    • Chelsea v Barcelona
    • Juventus v Tottenham
    • Porto v Liverpool
    • Real Madrid v PSG
    • Sevilla v Manchester United
    • Shakhtar v Roma

    The first legs (above) will be played from Feb 13-14 and Feb 20-21, while the second legs will be on March 6-7 and March
    13-14.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri did not appear daunted by the prospect of meeting one of the rising forces of English football though.

He wrote on his Twitter account: "Wembley awaits us, one of the sacred temples within sport.

"Spurs are a young and very talented group but we are Juventus and we can do it."

The other two of the five English clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool, will face Sevilla and Porto respectively.

Chelsea, Real Madrid pay price for sloppy group stage campaign
Chelsea's failure to top their Champions league group proves to be costly, as they will now meet Barcelona in the Round of 16. PHOTO: AFP

Bayern Munich will face Besiktas for the first time since winning 2-0 home and away in the 1997-98 group stage.

"Bayern are a powerful team but we are not a piece of cake either," Besiktas president Fikret Orman said. - WIRE SERVICES

Football