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Congrats, football festival back on the pitch

18 February 2014 [16:31] - TODAY.AZ
Today sees the resumption of the Champions League, the world's premier club competition, with 16 teams still standing and eyeing a place in the grand final in Lisbon on 24th May. Here is a brief recap of the last-16 ties and what sort of shape each contender is in.

Possibly the standout tie. Barça, the 'La Liga' leaders, face a free-scoring City side that lies third in the Premier League but has a game in hand over Chelsea and Arsenal. The Catalan club has Messi firing on all cylinders again, while the Citizens are without Agüero for the first leg.

Another mouth-watering prospect. While Arsenal always guarantees entertainment, the Gunners will have their work cut out against the reigning champions, who are widely fancied to retain the trophy. However, the absence of Ribéry for the first leg could boost Arsène Wenger's side.

An acid test for PSG's expensively assembled squad. The Ligue 1 table-toppers take on the team that currently stands second in the Bundesliga, albeit miles behind Bayern.

The five-time winners are looking to Europe and Clarence Seedorf to resurrect their season after a dreadful league campaign that sees them languishing in mid-table. However, Atlético is keeping up the pace at the top of 'La Liga' and will be desperate to make amends for the limp defeat by Real in the Spanish Cup semi-finals.

The English giant's struggles could offer a lifeline to the Greek side, which made history by advancing beyond the group stage.

Mourinho will be hoping for more Turkish delight after beating Gala in last year's quarters. Despite being knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend and having shown some patchy form in Europe, his Chelsea side has been rock-solid in the Premier League and should have too much for Drogba, Sneijder and co.

This year's Dortmund is worlds apart from the side that took Europe by storm last season. Injuries and Bayern's poaching have ravaged the wonderful team built by Jürgen Klopp, but playing the second leg at home should still give the Germans the edge.

Despite an abysmal record of only one win in 25 trips to Germany, 'Los Blancos' remain heavy favourites. The Gelsenkirchen-based outfit will be putting its eggs in the basket of fit-again ex-Real marksman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who will be raring to show all his class against the club that sold him in 2009.



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