Winners and Losers in the UEFA Champions League Draw

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterDecember 20, 2012

Winners and Losers in the UEFA Champions League Draw

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    The UEFA Champions League draw has provided some intriguing ties in the last 16.

    Manchester United have been paired with Real Madrid, and Scottish Premier League champions Celtic will cross swords with Juventus again after their colossal group-stage games in 2001.

    But who were the real winners and losers to emerge from the draw in Nyon?

    Ahead, we look at the sides that are either celebrating and feeling slighted following the draw.

Barcelona: Winner

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    Not only have Barcelona been handed a winnable tie, they will also be rubbing their hands at the prospect of two rivals being paired with each other.

    While neither Real Madrid nor Manchester United have set the Champions League alight this season, the fact that at least one experienced rival will not be in the quarterfinal is a bonus for the Nou Camp side.

    Barca have also been given a chance to progress against a transitional AC Milan side.

    The Serie A giants are in the process of rebuilding after key players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Antonio Cassano departed the San Siro Stadium.

    Few will expect a spirited but inexperienced Rossoneri to trouble Barcelona.

Juventus: Winner

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    Juventus will be relishing the tie against Celtic as an opportunity to progress to the quarterfinals.

    Although the Scottish champions are considered one of the relatively weaker teams in the last 16, a side which can defeat Barcelona in the group stages cannot be underestimated.

    For Juventus, though, the draw is one they will welcome. The experience of veteran Andrea Pirlo will be vital in the first leg at Parkhead, where a boisterous home crowd regularly act as a 12th man in European matches.

    Alongside the 33-year-old, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio should be able to control the game against a spirited opposition.

    Celtic manager Neil Lennon played for the Hoops in both group games against Juventus in 2001. Juve won 3-2 in Turin, courtesy of a controversial penalty, but lost 4-3 in Glasgow.

Schalke: Winner

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    Schalke were impressive in topping Group B ahead of Arsenal; a pairing with Galatasaray in the last 16 offers a genuine chance to reach the quarterfinals.

    The Bundesliga side are not a team of superstars, but striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar represents a huge threat after scoring four times in six group-stage appearances.

    The 29-year-old Holland international has strong backing in the Schalke team with midfielders Lewis Holtby, 22, and Julian Draxler, 19, emerging as real talents for the future and defender Benedikt Howedes scoring twice in the group stages.

    With Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund facing potentially awkward ties against Arsenal and Shakhtar Donetsk, respectively, this is a chance for Schalke to make up for a disappointing Bundesliga season by becoming the only German side in the last eight.

    Interim coach Jens Keller, who has replaced the sacked Huub Stevens until the end of the season, will also be looking to make his mark as a manager.

Manchester United: Loser

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    Manchester United had one wish before the draw was made: avoid Real Madrid.

    Not all wishes come true in football, though, and United are set for a reacquaintance with former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League last 16.

    United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will also be pitting his wits against those of another old rival, Jose Mourinho, who is in charge at Real and has been a constant thorn in United’s flesh.

    The Portuguese was responsible for knocking United out of the 2003-2004 Champions League before ensuring Chelsea won consecutive English Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.

Real Madrid: Loser

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    While Manchester United were not looking forward to a possible Champions League last-16 clash with Real Madrid, you can guarantee it is not a draw the Bernabeu side were relishing either.

    For the neutral supporter, the game is a mouthwatering prospect. But for Real coach Jose Mourinho and his team, the game represents one of the worst possible draws.

    Real have not been at their best this season in the Champions League and La Liga, where they languish 13 points behind leaders Barcelona.

    Mourinho might have the edge over United manager Sir Alex Ferguson in head-to-head clashes, but the Real boss lost his last Champions League encounter against United when he was with Inter Milan in 2009.

    Mourinho may have to be at his pragmatic best for the second leg in Manchester, with a counter-attacking policy providing his best chance of success against an impressive United forward line.

Borussia Dortmund: Loser

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    Borussia Dortmund have been handed an unkind pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League last-16 draw.

    The German club are 12 points behind current Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich in their bid for a third straight title win.

    Dortmund were looking at the possibility of another Champions League title to add to their 1997 triumph, but the challenge of Shakhtar is a tricky hurdle to overcome.

    The German club looked good in qualifying for the last 16 ahead of Real Madrid and English Premier League champions Manchester City, but the tie against the Ukraine team is one which few clubs left in the tournament will be looking forward to.

    Dortmund should have enough quality in their squad to progress, but Shakhtar are formidable opposition at home, as Chelsea discovered in October.