NYON, Switzerland – In another edition of a one-sided Champions League rivalry, Bayern Munich will play Arsenal in the round of 16 for the third time in five seasons.
Bayern ousted Arsenal in back-to-back seasons in the first knockout round in 2013 and ’14, and also in 2005. Still, they traded home wins in the group stage last season, and this time Arsenal is seeded so will host the return match on March 7.
“Arsenal are a strong team and I think currently they are better than in previous years,” Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.
Also in Monday’s draw, defending champion Real Madrid will host Napoli first on Feb. 15, and Barcelona will travel first to play Paris Saint-Germain on Feb. 14.
Madrid is tackling history this season. It set a club record streak of 35 games unbeaten on Saturday, and is aiming to be the first team in 25 years of the Champions League format to retain the European Cup trophy.
“This is a stiff challenge,” Madrid director Emilio Butragueño said. “We have to be at our best to break history. We have to be focused on every detail.”
One of the best-balanced round of 16 draws in recent years — with Bayern and Madrid unseeded as runners-up in a group — was also dominated by the elite. All 16 teams come from leagues ranked in Europe’s top six when the season started.
Leicester is the only round of 16 newcomer and was drawn to play first at Sevilla, the Europa League winner for the past three seasons.
Also, it was: Manchester City vs. Monaco; Benfica vs. Borussia Dortmund; FC Porto vs. Juventus; and Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atlético Madrid.
The Man City-Monaco pairing will pit the underachieving defense of coach Pep Guardiola’s team against the highest scorers in any of the top European leagues. Monaco is averaging three goals per game in the French league.
“We are the best attack in Europe, we score goals,” Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said. “We should travel there fearless and play our football.”
Borussia Dortmund, which set a Champions League record by scoring 21 goals in a six-game group stage, will play at Benfica first.
The first legs will be played from Feb. 14-22, with return matches from March 7-15.
The final will be on June 3 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) will pay clubs 5.5 million euros for playing in the round of 16. Each team already earned 16-20 million euros ($17-$21.2 million) in prize money and results bonuses during the group stage.