Champions League draw: Manchester City faces Barcelona, Bayern takes on Arsenal

It was the first tie out — and it’s the tie everyone is talking about.

Manchester City will face Barcelona in the last 16 of the European Champions League in what promises to be one of the most eagerly awaited contests in this year’s competition.

City, which has been in irrepressible form at home in the English Premier League and won at defending champion Bayern Munich last week, had failed to reach this stage in each of its previous two attempts.

Now it will face a Barcelona side which has won the tournament on four occasions — but director of football Txixi Beguiristain says City will not fear his former club.

“I think it will be a great match,” he told City’s official website.

“Ours is a team with a lot of confidence especially after winning against the champions in Munich — that will give us a lot of confidence. Not just at home but away as well.

“We have to be confident because of the way we are playing. We are showing that we can score in all matches. This is important in the Champions League.

“We scored in Plzen, in Moscow, in Munich — it should give us confidence to play against a team who have been champions many times.

“Our manager knows Barcelona perfectly because he managed in Spain for a long time. In this sense, we are confident.

“I think the text messages will be flying between Manchester and Barcelona now between Sergio and Lionel! If you want to win the Champions League you have to beat the biggest teams, Barcelona are one of the biggest teams.”

City has spent the past few years modeling itself on Barcelona — now it is aiming to supplant it in Europe’s top club competition.

Under the management of Manuel Pellegrini, the former Villarreal and Real Madrid coach, City has progressed to the last 16 of the competition for the very first time.

Backed by the riches of Sheikh Mansour, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, City has used its financial muscle to lure those who enjoyed great success at Barcelona.

Beguiristain worked at the Camp Nou from 2003-10 before joining City to work alongside Ferran Soriano, who joined following a spell with the Catalan club as vice-president.

Only last January, Barcelona president Sandro Rosell accused City of trying to poach players and coaching staff from the Camp Nou.

One former Barcelona player who is expected to star for City is Yaya Toure — the midfielder who left for England in July 2010.

The contest will also see City’s Argentine striker Sergio Aguero, who will hope to have recovered from a calf injury after being ruled out for up to a month, go up against international teammate Lionel Messi.

And while neutrals will be salivating at the prospect of the two heavyweight giants going head-to-head, Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino says both teams would have rather avoided one another.

“City will not have wanted to play against Barcelona either,” he told reporters.

“What we need to concentrate on is being in good shape when February comes around. We need to have a high level and sustain it.

“They are scoring goals with ease so we are not going to discover them now. We want to play well in the tie and obviously win it.”

Elsewhere, defending champion Bayern Munich will take on Arsenal in a repeat of last season’s clash at the same stage.

Bayern triumphed 3-1 in north London before squeaking through to the quarterfinals on away goals following a 2-0 home defeat.

Arsenal, which sits top of the Premier League despite Saturday’s 6-3 defeat at Manchester City, will provide a tough test for Bayern, according to chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“They are the leaders in the Premier League and so we have been warned,” he told reporters.

“A few months ago we lost to them in Munich. They are a very tough team.”

In 2012, Didier Drogba struck the winning penalty asChelsea pulled off an unlikely Champions League triumph by defeating Bayern in the final in Munich.

Now at Galatasaray, Drogba will return to Stamford Bridge to face his beloved Blues in what promises to be an emotional reunion.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had predicted that his side would be paired with the Turkish club, which defeated Juventus in a dramatic final group game to seal its place in the last 16.

Real Madrid has been paired with German side Schalke, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men still harboring ambitions of winning “La Decima” — the club’s 10th title.

Real, which sits third in Spain, has not won the competition since 2002 and was beaten by Borussia Dortmund in last year’s semifinal.

Dortmund, which was beaten in last season’s final by Bayern, will travel to Russia to take on Zenit St Petersburg in the first leg.

Manchester United will be favorite to progress to the quarterfinal stage after being paired with Greek side Olympiakos.

David Moyes’ side, which finished top of its group despite unconvincing domestic form, last won the competition in 2008.

Seven-time winner AC Milan has been handed a testing tie against Atletico Madrid.

Milan, which has endured a dismal season in Serie A, will face an Atletico side sitting level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.

Elsewhere, French champion Paris Saint-Germain will travel to Bayer Leverkusen for its first leg tie.

Last-16 draw:

Manchester City vs Barcelona

Olympiakos vs Manchester United

AC Milan vs Atletico Madrid

Bayer Leverkusen vs Paris Saint-Germain

Galatasaray vs Chelsea

Schalke vs Real Madrid

Zenit vs Borussia Dortmund

Arsenal vs Bayern Munich

Ties to be played February 18/19 and 25/26 with second leg games on 11, 12, 18, 19 March.

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