Real Madrid, PSG clash
NYON, Switzerland (AP):
Real Madrid versus Paris Saint-Germain. Cristiano Ronaldo versus Neymar. Historic achievement versus burning ambition.
Two-time defending Champions League winners Madrid were drawn yesterday to play the tournament's standout team in the last 16, made possible because the 12-time champions finished second in their group while PSG won their group.
"They (PSG) are really very strong in every department of the field," Madrid director Emilio Butragueno said. "But I have to underline, we are the holders, and our players, they always rise to the occasion."
PSG bought Neymar from Barcelona for a record €222 million (US$262 million) fee in the offseason with a specific aim of winning a first European title. Madrid won six European Cups before PSG was even formed in 1970.
"As I always say, we must be ready to play any team, and we will be ready," PSG President Nasser al-Khelaifi said in a statement on the club's website.
Neymar scored in five straight wins as PSG finished ahead of Bayern Munich in their group, ending with a competition record of 25 goals in the group stage.
Ronaldo scored in all six of Madrid's matches to set another Champions League record.
Barcelona, who lead the Spanish league unbeaten despite the loss of Neymar, were drawn to face Chelsea in a meeting of recent champions. The English club is one of the few opponents Lionel Messi has failed to score against.
With eight former winners in the line-up, another clash of European champions pits Liverpool against Porto.
Also, it was: Basel vs Manchester City; Sevilla vs Manchester United; Juventus vs Tottenham; Bayern Munich vs Besiktas; and Shakhtar Donetsk vs Roma.
The first legs will be played from February 13-21, with the return matches from March 6-14.
The final will be played at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26.
Madrid and PSG met in the group stage two seasons ago when the French team's leader was Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They drew 0-0 in Paris and Madrid won 1-0 at home.
"Since then they have strengthened. They have signed very, very good players," said Butragueno, whose club lost out to PSG in its pursuit of France forward Kylian Mbappe.
Barcelona and Chelsea will renew a rivalry that has included intense semi-finals in 2009 and 2012. Each took a turn to advance at the other team's stadium and go on to win the title.
Tottenham's reward for taking four points from Madrid and topping its group is a pairing with Italian champion Juventus, the Champions League runners-up in two of the past three seasons.
Shakhtar will host Roma in their adopted home city of Kharkiv. Its stadium in Donetsk has been ruled unsafe for games since conflict flared in 2014 between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"It's very, very difficult," said Shakhtar CEO Sergiy Palkin, whose team edged Napoli to advance. "It's a very, very big effort for our club."