The same can not be said for Manchester City, who drew the tie of the round against Spanish giants Barcelona. This is the first time the blue half of Manchester has progressed to the knock out rounds having failed in their first two seasons amongst Europe’s elite and Manuel Pellegrini’s men may rue finishing as runners-up in their group. The tie is a dream for sports marketing agencies, as the meeting between two superpowers of the football world will present a pool of PR possibilities.
Any London sports agency wishing access to similar opportunities need not fret, as Arsenal were handed an equally tricky task against current holders Bayern Munich. It is the second time in two years the sides have met at this stage, with Bayern triumphing last year, despite losing their impressive home record in the 2-0 defeat to the Gunners in Germany.
Fans were left much happier on the west side of London as former European champions Chelsea were drawn against Turkish side Galatasaray. The tie marks a return for Chelsea legend Didier Drogba who moved to the Turkish champions via China after eight years at Stamford Bridge. The Blues should have too much for their opponents but will not be thrilled with a lengthy mid-week trip and its potential affect on their domestic ambitions.
Facing a similarly arduous journey abroad are Manchester United, whose draw against Greek champions Olympiacos marks the easiest of the English ties. David Moyes’ men have been off form this season but will remain confident of progressing to the quarter-finals, even if Olympiacos’ hostile atmosphere and geographic location are far from ideal.
In the other fixtures high flying Real Madrid were drawn against Shalke ’04, Borussia Dortmund face a lengthy trip to Zenit St. Petersburg, AC Milan meet Atletico Madrid and cash rich PSG play Bayer Leverkusen. The competition presents an unrivalled opportunity for sports agents to keep tabs on Europe’s best talent whilst also promoting the abilities of their existing clients. The group stages were once again marred by issues of crowd trouble and racial abuse leading UEFA’s sports management teams to look for ways to avoid similar negativities in the knock out rounds.