Football

Lionel Messi v Neymar in Champions League last 16

Barcelona and PSG meet for the first time since their epic 2017 clash

Barcelona will face Paris Saint-Germain and former striker Neymar, while title holders Bayern Munich are up against Italy's Lazio in the last 16 of the Champions League after yesterday's draw.

The clash of Lionel Messi's Barca and last year's runners-up PSG is a repeat of their remarkable meeting at the same stage in 2017, when Barca overcame a 4-0 first-leg loss to beat the French club 6-1 in Spain with Neymar scoring twice for the Catalan side.

"We know them (PSG) well, they've got some exceptional players. Paris want to fight for the Champions League, last year they came very close to winning it and they want to go one better this time round, but we've got something to say about that," said Guillermo Amor, Barcelona's director of institutional relations.

Under Ronald Koeman, however, Barcelona have got off to a slow start this term. Despite beating lowly Levante 1-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time), thanks to Messi's winner 14 minutes from time, they are nine points behind La Liga leaders Real Sociedad - who have two games in hand.

With the matches in February, PSG will hope Neymar will have recovered from an ankle injury which forced him to be stretchered off the pitch in the 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat by Lyon yesterday morning.

Holders Bayern will start as favourites in their tie with Lazio, but they will be wary of Simone Inzaghi's side.

Lazio were unbeaten in the group stage en route to their return to the knockout stage of Europe's premier club competition for the first time in 20 years.

"Lazio are an uncomfortable opponent, you saw that in the group," said Bayern sports director Hasan Salihamidzic, of the Italian side, who won two games and drew four in the group stage. "It is always uncomfortable against Italian teams."

Lazio midfielder Luis Alberto insisted that the Italian side will face Bayern "without fear".

English Premier League champions Liverpool will play last year's semi-finalists RB Leipzig, creating a match-up between Germany's most highly rated young coach Julian Nagelsmann of Leipzig and Liverpool's Juergen Klopp, the country's No. 1 tactician.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 10 matches against German teams in all European competitions, a run going back to 2002.

But Reds legend Ian Rush urged caution with regards to Leipzig, saying: "They're third in the league, they've only lost one game in the Bundesliga so far, so it's going to be a very difficult game."

Leipzig reached the last 16 by defeating Manchester United 3-2 last week, a stark contrast to their 5-0 loss at Old Trafford in October, noted Rush.

"When they played Manchester United, it was two different games," said the Welshman. "At Manchester United, United were really good, so Leipzig knew that they had to beat Manchester at home.

"They put it right, they got it right. So, at this knockout stage, it'll be even more difficult, so they know what they have to do now."

Another German side, Borussia Dortmund, will be facing Sevilla with caretaker coach Edin Terzic taking over from the sacked Lucien Favre.

Terzic's immediate task, though, would be to improve their domestic form. He said: "Sevilla have often won the Europa League in recent years. We are looking forward to that task. Until then, there are so many other tasks and issues to be dealt with."

Thirteen-time European champions Real Madrid face Serie A side Atalanta, who reached the quarter-finals in their first Champions League campaign last season. Real have won 10 of their last 11 games against Italian clubs.

Atletico Madrid will face Chelsea in a game which could include the return of striker Diego Costa to Stamford Bridge.

Manchester City will take on Borussia Moenchengladbach, who are in the last 16 for the first time in the Champions League era.

Italian champions Juventus will face Porto, a game which will see Cristiano Ronaldo return to his homeland Portugal.

The two-legged ties will be played from Feb 16. - AFP, REUTERS

ROUND OF 16

  • B. M'gladbach v Man City
  • Lazio v Bayern Munich
  • Atletico Madrid v Chelsea
  • RB Leipzig v Liverpool
  • Porto v Juventus
  • Barcelona v PSG
  • Sevilla v B. Dortmund
  • Atalanta v Real Madrid

First legs on Feb 16, 17, 23, 24.

Second legs on March 9, 10, 16, 17.

The draw for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final is on March 19.

Football