Champions League last-16 draw kicks off real battles

AP , Sunday 14 Dec 2014

UEFA Champions League trophy
UEFA Champions League trophy (Photo: Reuters)

Defending European champion Madrid was perhaps most impressive in the group stage with a perfect record, contributing six of the club's current Spanish record streak of 20 straight wins.

Madrid advanced with two matches to spare and its 11-point lead over runner-up Basel was a competition record.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a Champions League-record 17 goals last season, has five so far, allowing Lionel Messi to build a 75-72 lead in their ongoing duel for the all-time competition scoring record.
In a season of heavy scoring and lopsided wins, even Messi's eight goals for Barcelona does not top the standings.

Shakhtar forward Luiz Adriano has nine - matching Ronaldo's group-stage record last season - with eight scored against BATE Borisov of Belarus.

The Ukraine champion's 7-0 and 5-0 routs of BATE were among 15 matches in the group stage won by at least four goals. There were just 16 such wins in the past two group phases combined.

Also, half the teams in Monday's draw racked up double-figure goal difference in the groups.
Monaco bucked that trend. The lowest-ranked club remaining - now No. 89 in UEFA's standings - scored only four in six matches after letting star Colombian forwards James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao leave in the summer.

The French side equaled the competition record by conceding just a single goal, though is arguably the weakest seeded team.

A pairing with Monaco would send Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger back to where he made his reputation in the 1980s. It would also be rare good Champions League fortune for Arsenal, who recently exited the last-16 stage against Barcelona and Bayern.
Dortmund is the most unpredictable seed with the 2013 runner-up shining in the Champions League while spending much of the season last in the Bundesliga.
PSG, which was runner-up in Barcelona's group, could be the toughest unseeded option, though English champion Manchester City has momentum from its unlikely turnaround sparked by Sergio Aguero's hat-trick to defeat Bayern last month.

Ten of the 16 teams come from three nations - Spain, England and Germany - and only one is from eastern Europe.

However, Shakhtar plays closer to the west than it would choose. Donetsk is the center of conflict with pro-Russian separatists, so Shakhtar plays ''home'' matches in Lviv, near Ukraine's western border with Poland.

Each last-16 team will collect a further 3.5 million euros ($4.4 million) in UEFA prize money, after earning up to 15 million euros ($18.7 million) from the groups. Teams can more than double their UEFA check from shares of broadcast revenues.

The final is played June 6 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

Seeded teams: Atletico Madrid (Spain), Real Madrid (Spain), Monaco (France), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Bayern Munich (Germany), Barcelona (Spain), Chelsea (England), Porto (Portugal).

Unseeded teams: Juventus (Italy), Basel (Switzerland), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Arsenal (England), Manchester City (England), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Schalke (Germany), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine).

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