Will Saint-Germain avoid facing the giants in the Champions League final?
On Monday, attention turned to UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, where the Champions League quarter-final draw will take place, amid French club Paris Saint-Germain’s desire to avoid the big boys. , after it finished the group stage in second place.
Since its transfer of ownership to the Qataris in 2011, Saint-Germain has set its sights on winning the Champions League title for the first time in its history and has signed the most important players to achieve this goal, which has previously been achieved. A French team, its rival Marseille, in 1993.
The Parisian club was very close to achieving its goal by reaching the final in 2020, but the dream ended at the hands of German Bayern Munich, which could be its opponent in the round of 16 of the current edition as a result of the French team. The group finished second out of six.
According to Agence France-Presse, Saint-Germain finished second in the “Group of Death” in the last round, with a difference of two direct matches against Italian Milan, who won away from home and gave them a great service. England host Newcastle, 2-1.
Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw with hosts Borussia Dortmund in the last round, guaranteeing their qualification, and finishing top of the group.
As a result of coming second, Saint-Germain face the prospect of ending their campaign in the eighth final for the fourth season in a row, as the draw could be held against either Barcelona or Spain’s Real Madrid or England’s Manchester City. The defending champion, or Bayern Munich.
But his Spanish coach Luis Enrique, who led Barcelona to the continental title in 2015, seemed optimistic about his side’s chances, which also face the prospect of meeting England’s Arsenal or Spain’s Atletico Madrid, while the latter’s citizens, Real Sociedad, would be the French capital club’s preferred opponents.
Enrique assured that competing in the Champions League in a difficult group “made us grow”, adding: “I have no doubt that we will be better.” All teams (I’ve coached) get better over time. We will get key players back. Statistically, we are already one of the best teams in terms of chances we create, shots on goal or possession.
“The danger is not in not qualifying, but this group is the best group we can participate in in terms of development,” he believed. “It made us grow as we now have information about our position compared to good competitors. In the group stage, we played matches that were quarter-finals and quarter-finals.”
He continued: “Looking at how the players have behaved in the last few months and seeing the players coming back from injuries (like Presnel Kimpembe and Portuguese Nuno Mendes), I’m obviously optimistic.”
The second stage of the draw includes two other top-class teams; They finished second behind Italian Inter and Napoli, behind Sociedad and Real Madrid respectively, and will pose a challenge to their next opponents Arsenal, Atletico, Barcelona, Bayern, Dortmund or Manchester City.
Among the big teams who topped their groups and the first position of the draw, Barcelona currently look the weakest, following a defeat to their neighbors Girona in the local league, with the leaders, 2-4, losing 2-3 to Belgium’s Royal Antwerp in the last round, and drawing later in the game. “La Liga” 1-1 in Valencia.
Coach Xavi Hernandez is confident the team will get back on track and it is still early days for the Champions League as the first leg of the quarter-finals will be played on February 13, 14, 20 and 21. Return leg on 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th March.
Real Madrid, who hold the record for most titles in the competition (14), and last season’s champions, Manchester City, are the only two teams to have won all their matches and reached the full score in the group stage. 8 points ahead of Napoli at first and 6 points behind German Leipzig in second place.
Domestically, City are going through a lackluster period with just one win in their last 6 fixtures, but they have only lost once in the series and that was 0-1 against Aston Villa against 4 draws. Rivals (Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham).
Based on position, skills and history, City, Real Madrid and Bayern would be the teams to avoid in the last 16, barring facing two teams from the same country and two teams that were in the same group together. to each other.
As a result of finishing runners-up in the group stage, Danish clubs Copenhagen, Portuguese club Porto, Portuguese club Leipzig, Dutch club Eindhoven and Italian clubs Lazio, Inter, Saint-Germain and Napoli were classified in the second tier.
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