On Monday morning, UEFA held the draw for the Champions League‘s Round of 16. The draw is significant on many levels. For starters, getting what is considered a favorable draw can help a team, especially one that is not one of the ‘super teams’ expected to have a deep run in the competition. One needs to look no further than 2012-13 finalists Borussia Dortmund as an example of what a favorable draw in the Round of 16 can do for a team.
With all that mind, the eight Round of 16 matchups each offer their own unique storylines and at the same time, we can infer a number of takeaways. The first is that a few teams, in particular a couple of English teams, paid the price for not doing what was necessary in order to finish first in their respective groups.
Both Manchester City and Arsenal find themselves drawn into ties against two of Europe’s elite teams, as Manchester City will play against FC Barcelona while Arsenal take on Bayern Munich in a rematch of a Round of 16 tie from last season. The moment each of these two finished their games and found themselves as group runner-ups, they knew there would be a distinct possibility that they would have to faceoff against a tough team in the Round of 16.
On the other end of the spectrum, two teams who ended up with favorable Round of 16 draws because they took care of business by winning their respective groups are Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. Atletico will play against a struggling AC Milan while PSG will get Bayer Leverkusen, and given that both those teams are good and capable, these matchups should not trouble Atletico and PSG if they play their best games.
The final takeaway from the draw is that two high-profile teams who have had their struggles were also given favorable draws, which will help them aspire to reach the quarterfinals and beyond. The two teams are Borussia Dortmund, who take on Zenit St. Petersburg and Manchester United, who will take on Olympiacos.
While both Dortmund and Manchester United have had their struggles for different reasons, they most likely let out a sigh of relief when they found out whom they will take on when the competition resumes in the middle of February 2014.