- Written by Walter Pless
- Published: 16 December 2013
Photo: Camp Nou, the famous home of Barcelona, will be the scene for an epic struggle come March 2014 [Photo courtesy of Richard Bennett]
The draw for the Final 16 of the European Champions League was made yesterday and there are some intriguing pairings.
One of the most fascinating is that between Manchester City and Barcelona.
When these sides meet in Manchester in February, it should be an encounter worth watching because of the presence of City’s Sergio Aguero and Barca’s Lionel Messi, team-mates in the Argentina national side.
Aguero, the son in law of Diego Maradona, and Messi are both injured at present, but they should be well rested and ready for action come February.
These young men are two of the world’s top players - some would say, the top.
There are some intriguing links between Manchester City and Barcelona.
Manchester City’s CEO is none other than Ferran Soriano, a former member of the Barcelona board of directors.
Txiki Begiristain, a former technical director at the Camp Nou, is now manager of football operations at Manchester City, alongside Brian Marwood.
Begiristain was a left-winger in the Barcelona side from 1988 until 1995.
Spanish internationals Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo are also at City, whose staff are being encouraged to take Spanish lessons in order to help these newcomers to integrate.
And then there’s City’s Chilean manager, Manuel Pellegrini, an engineer by profession, who once coached Real Madrid and was in line for the Barcelona job if City had not stepped in first.
It all goes to show the true ‘internationalisation’ of football as a world game today.
There simply are no borders.
And, by the way, I found out another interesting fact the other day - Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant at Real Madrid is an English coach, Paul Clement.
The full draw for the February first legs is:
Manchester City v Barcelona
Olympiacos v Manchester United
AC Milan v Atletico Madrid
Bayer Leverkusen v Paris St Germain
Galatsaray v Chelsea
Schalke 04 v Real Madrid
Zenit St Petersburg v Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal vs Bayern Munich
And then there’s the World Cup in June and July.
Don’t you just love football?
Bring on 2014.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas was sacked this morning after the side lost 5-0 at home at White Hart Lane to Liverpool on Sunday.
It is the second London club to have fired the Portuguese, the previous having been Chelsea.
Former Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle has expressed an interest in the job.