After a short week of waiting and wondering, the Champions League draw for the round of 16 revealed Arsenal’s opponents on Monday morning, as the Premier League leaders drew FC Porto from the Liga Portugal from Pot 2.
The Gunners dodged a few bullets, missing out on potential land mines in Paris St. Germaine and Inter Milan. They also missed out on the perceived “weaker” sides in FC Copenhagen and RB Leipzig, but at this stage, there are not going to be any truly weak ties. Porto are not a side to be taken lightly, and Arsenal’s Europa League exit to Portuguese side Sporting CP last season should be a stark reminder of the capabilities of sides outside of Europe’s larger leagues.
The Gunners have a limited history with Porto, having only ever faced them in the Champions League 6 times, the last time occurring 13 years ago when the Gunners faced them in the Round of 16. Arsenal defeated them 5-0 at the Emirates to take the tie on a 6-2 aggregate and move on to the quarter finals. The Gunners have yet to register a win in three trips to Porto, with two losses and a draw to their names, while they have won every home leg against them.
The first Ro16 matches are set to be scheduled in mid February with the second legs in early-to-mid March.
The rest of the draw presented some intriguing matchups without there being a truly huge showdown in traditional terms, with perhaps Inter Milan vs Atletico Madrid being the pick of the bunch. The rest of the draw is as follows:
- Napoli vs Barcelona
- PSG vs Real Sociedad
- Inter Milan vs Atletico Madrid
- PSV Eindhoven vs Borussia Dortmund
- Lazio vs Bayern Munich
- Copenhagen vs Manchester City
- RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid
Outside of the Arsenal draw, which matchups are you most excited for? I think PSV vs BVB could be a really fun one, as PSV are unbeaten in league play and are playing some truly dominant footy.