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Arsenal’s Champions League bubble bursts with Barca draw

| 14.12.2015

Having made a miraculous recovery to book a 16th consecutive spot in the Champions League knockout rounds, Arsenal took a blow to the solar plexus in landing Barcelona as their last-16 opponents.

The Gunners have exited at this stage of the competition in each of the past five seasons and will face the Blaugrana for the second time in six campaigns when the competition resumes in the new year.

In their previous meeting, Arsene Wenger’s men took a 2-1 home win to the Camp Nou but were dismantled by the Spaniards after Robin van Persie was sent off with the second leg poised at 1-1.

Fast forward five years and the prospect of gaining any advantage looks slim with Barcelona boasting Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez up front and the north Londoners ravaged with injuries. Arsenal are out to 33/1 with Ladbrokes to win the Champions League. They were 18/1 before the draw.

Chelsea, who unlike Arsenal, were seeded for the draw having topped their qualification group were also left to rue their rotten luck having pulled Paris Saint-Germain out of the hat.

The Blues will face their French rivals in the knockout rounds for the third consecutive season and their price to lift their second big-eared trophy ballooned to 22/1 from 16s as a result.

The head-to-heads in this sphere stands at one apiece, with Laurent Blanc’s men knocking Jose Mourinho’s mob out in the round-of-16 last term, avenging their quarter-final exit at Chelsea hands the campaign prior.

Manchester City, who won their section for the first time, were rewarded with a pleasing tie against Dynamo Kiev. Despite that, their odds to win the competition eased slightly to 14s from 12/1 pre-draw.

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich’s tussle with Juventus sits as the obvious eye-catcher, while Gent v Wolfsburg may not attract too many neutrals.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.