Madrid-Liverpool, PSG-Bayern in Champions League last-16
NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Real Madrid will play Liverpool, again. Bayern Munich will play Paris Saint-Germain, again.
Two rematches of recent Champions League finals were set up Monday by the draw for the round of 16 as some of Europe’s top heavyweights were paired together.
Madrid beat Liverpool in the 2018 and 2022 finals, to extend its competition record to 14 titles, and Bayern beat PSG in 2020 to become European champion for the sixth time.
The trend even continued one hour later at UEFA headquarters with the first pairing made in the Europa League draw.
Barcelona will face Manchester United, the team it beat in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, in the knockout playoffs of the second-tier competition in February.
For defending champion Madrid, having a difficult path to the title is nothing new. The Spanish team’s remarkable run last season saw it knock out PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool to lift the trophy.
PSG being paired with Bayern meant another blockbuster draw at this stage for French champion as well. PSG’s quest for a first European title was ended in March by Karim Benzema’s stunning late hat trick in the second leg in Madrid.
The tough draw was made possible because PSG finished second behind Benfica in its group after the Portuguese club scored a crucial stoppage-time goal in a 6-1 win last week at Maccabi Haifa.
PSG sports director Luis Campos dismissed a suggestion the club was made to pay dearly for last week’s results. After playing out a 2-1 victory at Juventus, PSG players said they had not realized that the group win was at risk from Benfica’s late surge in Israel.
“It’s really motivating for us to play this match. (against Bayern),” Campos said at the draw. “It’s a great opportunity to take a revenge, many players played the (2020) final against Bayern.”
Lionel Messi is one PSG player who did not play in the final two years ago. Then with Barcelona, Messi was on the receiving end of Bayern’s 8-2 rout in the single-leg quarterfinals, which was the last time he faced the German champion.
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann lamented his team “wasn’t really rewarded” for its perfect record of six wins in the group stage.
“And I think it’s the same for Paris, they gave away first place in the last round of games, so I don’t think they’re too overjoyed to be playing us,” Nagelsmann said.
Benfica was rewarded Monday with a pairing against Club Brugge, the 15th-ranked of the 16 teams in the draw.
The lowest-rated team, AC Milan, will be at home against Tottenham in the first leg in its return to the Champions League knockout rounds after a nine-year gap.
Manchester City was paired with Leipzig, and Chelsea was drawn to face Borussia Dortmund in Premier League vs. Bundesliga clashes.
Man City and Leipzig traded home wins last season in the group stage, which started with a 6-3 game in Manchester and ended with a 2-1 victory in Leipzig.
“They play open football,” Man City director of football Txiki Begiristain said of Leipzig, “a box-to-box game which we don’t like too much because we like to have the control.”
Napoli, the Serie A leader and top-scoring team in the group stage with 20 goals, will play Eintracht Frankfurt, and Inter Milan is at home first against Porto.
Teams from the same country or who played each other in the group stage could not be paired together in the round of 16.
First-leg games will be played between Feb. 14-22. Return games are scheduled for March 7-15.
The unusually long wait of more than three months between the group and knockout stages was caused by the World Cup in Qatar being played in November and December.
The congested season meant the six-round group stage started earlier than usual in September and was completed in just nine weeks.
The Europa League format includes a knockout round in February for runners-up in the group stage to meet teams who finished third in the Champions League groups.
Among the former European champions in this draw, Barcelona was paired with Man United, Juventus will face Nantes and Ajax will play knockout-stage newcomer Union Berlin.
PSV Eindhoven, the 1988 European champion is away first against Sevilla, the record six-time winner of the Europa League or its predecessor the UEFA Cup.
First-leg games will be played on Feb. 16 and return games are played one week later. The eight playoff winners advance to the round of 16 to meet the eight Europa League group winners, which include Arsenal.
Ukraine has two teams still in the UEFA competitions, with Shakhtar Donetsk drawn to face Rennes in the Europa League playoffs and Dnipro-1 playing AEK Larnaca in the playoffs of the third-tier Europa Conference League.
AP Sports Writers Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and James Ellingworth in Düsseldorf, Germany contributed to this report
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