I’m sure we are all aware that next Thursday at 10.30am uk time, the draw will be made for the last 16 of this seasons Champions League. All eyes, ears and mobile phones etc of a Celtic mind will be tuned into the events in UEFA’s Swiss HQ in Nyon to see who we are paired with. With that in mind I thought I’d do a little preview of who we could face and let everyone discuss who they would like to draw.
The teams we could face are, in no particular order..Paris Saint Germain (PSG) , Schalke, Málaga CF, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, or Manchester United. Some of these teams we have faced fairly recently, some not so recently and a couple we have never faced. Let’s begin shall we..
Home ground: Parc des Princes capacity : (48,000)
Currently managed by Carlo Ancelotti, PSG have been one of europes big spenders recently spending a French record of €108m acquiring top stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi but to name a few. Celtic last faced PSG in the european cup winners cup 2nd round on November 2nd 1995 with the French team winning 3-0 in Glasgow to complete a 4-0 aggregate win.
Home ground: the Veltins arena.
Schalke are the first of the three German sides we can be paired with and would be the preferred choice for me. We have never faced them before, They are based in Gelsenkirchen and have recently appointed Jens Keller as manager after sacking Huub Stevens. The club is on a really poor run domestically, only picking up two points from their last six league games. They still have some class players though like Hollands Klass Jan Huntelaar and would be no walkover.
Home ground: La rosalida
Malaga are currently managed by well respected coach Manuel Pellegrini who’s previous jobs have been at clubs like Villarreal and most recently Real Madrid! They are the second team we have never faced. Although they are having some money troubles Malaga have made light work of this their first season in the champions league finishing top of their group! They have some quality players like Joaquin and Elisieu. Malaga and Celtic are the only clubs in this years tournament to progress from the qualifying stages to the knockout stages.
Home ground: westfalonstadion
Managed by Jurgen Klopp Dortmund have been on a bit of a renaissance recently having spent a few years trailing some of the other big names in German football by some way and are now current Bundesliga champions. Their local rivals are Schalke and they also have developed a rivalry with another club we could face Bayern Munich! Im sure this is a tie a lot of celts fans would want as both sets of fans have a reputation throughout Europe for their passion and atmosphere they bring to their games. They have developed a very good technical side rather than trying to buy big name players to bring success a lot like Celtic. A few notable players are Kevin Grosskreuts, Jacob Blazcycowsky and Robert Lewandowski. Celtics former captain Paul Lambert famously won the Champions League with Dortmund before his return to Scotland.
Home ground: Juventus Stadium
Currently managed by Antonio Conte Juventus are current serie A champions and also currently top of their domestic league with a seven point lead. Much like Dortmund, Juventus are very much a club on the way back up to the top after a few years in the shadow of rival clubs. The old lady of Italian football is Italy’s most successful club and I’m sure some of us would like to draw them for a little revenge after Amoroso dived to win a penalty in Turin the last time we faced them, although we did get a little revenge in the return game a 4:3 thriller that will be remember for big Suttons volley!!
Home ground: Allianz Arena
Bayern are the 3rd German side we could be paired with and are currently managed by Juup Heynekes and are currently top of the Bundesliga. They were famously beaten by Chelsea at the Allianz arena in the champions league final last season so will be looking to make amends. The team is littered with big name stars like Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinstieger and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Bayern have won the big cup 4 times in their history including theee times in a row in 1974, ’75 and ’76 their last one coming in 2001 and are a side I’d like to avoid.
Home ground: Old Trafford
Last but not least is Man Utd. A side we all know well and would no doubt be a box office tie! Everyone loves a good old Battle of Britain don’t they! Utd currently top of the EPL leading big spenders and rivals Man City by six points. Having recently added Robin van Persie to their multi million pound squad they look very dangerous and are another I’d like to avoid purely for progressions sake but I’m sure our players would love to test themselves against the English giants who we had a couple of cracking games against the last time we met in the Champions League, Utd winning 3-2 down at old Trafford and Celtic winning 1-0 at Parkhead with Nakamuras stunning free kick and the holy goalies penalty save sending us into the last 16!
Can’t wait for the draw now after writing that! Still not sure who id like though I’m sure there will be a few teams out there hoping to avoid us as well. Lets hope our bhoys do us proud as they have done so far in the tournament.