Cristiano Ronaldo is to return to Manchester United with nine-time champions Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16, while Lionel Messi’s Barcelona are scheduled to take on AC Milan.
Bayern Munich, last season’s beaten finalists, are drawn to play Arsenal and Juventus are to take on surprise qualifiers Celtic. Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain are to face Valencia.
However, the fate of the two Spanish giants in yesterday’s draw at UEFA headquarters attracted most interest and both were pitted against clubs with decades of European experience.
Real, the Spanish champions, have been disappointing in La Liga this season and they finished second in their Champions League group behind Borussia Dortmund.
Barcelona are now 2-1 favorites to win the Champions League, although they could hardly have picked a club with more experience of success in Europe in seven-time winners AC Milan when the competition resumes in mid-February.
Messi has scored 90 goals so far this year and has fired Barcelona to a nine-point lead in La Liga, while Milan are 14 points adrift of Juventus in Serie A and finished second behind Malaga in their group.
In the other ties, Galatasaray are to play Schalke 04, Shakhtar Donetsk take on Borussia Dortmund and Porto face Malaga.