Manchester City's Txiki Begiristain: Real Madrid Champions League tie a 'difficult one'

Manchester City's Txiki Begiristain: Real Madrid Champions League tie a 'difficult one'
Manchester City's Txiki Begiristain: Real Madrid Champions League tie a 'difficult one'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Txiki Begiristain was left under no illusion about the size of the task Manchester City face in the last 16 of the Champions League after being paired with the competition's most successful team Real Madrid.

City's sporting director was in Nyon, Switzerland, for Monday's draw as the reigning Premier League champions, seeking their first Champions League title, were paired with 13-time winners Real Madrid for a place in the quarter-finals.

The two clubs met in the 2015/16 semi-finals, the furthest City have progressed in the tournament. That tie was won 1-0 on aggregate by Madrid as they went on to win the first of three successive European Cups under Zinedine Zidane.

"It is a difficult one, of course. Real Madrid have won 13 times so they are the best," Begiristain told BT Sport.

"We want to be the best so we want to beat them."

The clash is a first competitive meeting between City manager Pep Guardiola and Zidane.

"They are a big opponent, very powerful in every sense," said Real director Emilio Butragueno.

"It's going to be an exciting tie - one of those that makes us love this wonderful sport."

Holders Liverpool will return to the scene of last season's Champions League triumph after they were drawn against Atletico Madrid in the last 16.

Jurgen Klopp's side will travel to the Wanda Metropolitano, where Liverpool lifted the trophy in June after beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0, for the first leg of their tie against three-time runners-up Atletico.

"The task is going to be difficult because we have opponents who are the reigning champions," said Atletico director Clemente Villaverde.

"They are the champions, they have all the assets to be called the best team in Europe. We will have to use all our hard work and our experience. We know they are not going to make it easy."

Chelsea face German giants Bayern Munich in a repeat of the 2012 final won by the Blues.

However, Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has fond memories of London, where the Bavarians beat Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 final at Wembley.

"We're happy to go to London, we have great experiences from there. Chelsea are a dangerous team and we must take them extremely seriously," said Neuer.

Paris Saint-Germain, who impressed in the group stage and will be trying to avoid a fourth successive last-16 exit, will take on 1997 champions Dortmund.

Barcelona will play Napoli for the first time as the Catalan giants, five-time European champions, attempt to move on from last season's painful semi-final loss to Liverpool.

Italian champions Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo will fancy their chances of overcoming French side Lyon, who lost captain Memphis Depay to a season-ending injury Sunday.

"We can't complain. Last year we faced Atletico which was a harder draw, I think," Juventus vice-president Pavel Nedvev told Sky.

"We can be happy, but if you're not in form come February, March you won't get through."

Tottenham Hotspur lock horns with Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig while Champions League debutants Atalanta continue their adventure against two-time former finalists Valencia.

The first legs will be played over February 18-19 and February 25-26 with the return fixtures scheduled for March 10, 11, 17 and 18.

The final is on May 30 at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, where Liverpool won a thrilling 2005 final on penalties against AC Milan.

Updated: December 16, 2019 07:13 PM

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