BERLIN – Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool take on Bayern Munich in a duel of five-time winners and one of three intriguing English-German ties in the last-16 of the Champions League drawn on Monday.
The unbeaten Premier League leaders coached by German Klopp have had the upper hand in the two previous continental meetings – the 2001 European Super Cup and the 1981 Champions Cup semi-finals.
Manchester City forward Leroy Sane faces his former club in the form of Schalke, and Tottenham play unbeaten Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund for the third time in four years after the draw made in Nyon, Switzerland.
There is also a German element in the tie involving the fourth English side as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United face a first-ever meeting with Neymar’s French champions Paris Saint-Germain and their German coach Thomas Tuchel.
Three-time reigning champions Real Madrid play another former winner in Ajax, Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Madrid as Juventus face Atletico in a duel of teams who were losing finalists twice each in the past five years, Olympique Lyon meet mighty Barcelona and Roma play Porto.
Bayern have had an up and down season so far, but have shown improvement lately, and hope to be in fine form once they face Klopp’s Reds in February and March.
“They’re the team of the hour, they’re the league leaders in England,” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said.
“They play good football, they’re very physical and they’re full of energy. You need two good days.
“They’re a top side, it’s a tough one.
“But these are the challenges that you look forward to as a player and that you have to overcome in your career.”
Champions League top scorer Robert Lewandowski tweeted on the clash with Mo Salah’s side: “It will be a fantastic battle. Come on Bayern, let’s do it.”
While in charge at Dortmund, Klopp beat Bayern for the Bundesliga title 2011 and 2012, thrashed them 5-2 in the 2012 cup final, but also lost the Champions League final 2013 against them at Wembley.
“It will be a tough one, an interesting one, and I am looking forward to it,” Klopp said. “It’s the last-16 of the Champions League, so there are only tough teams.”
#UCL last 16 dates confirmed.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 17, 2018
First Leg: Tuesday 19 February (H)
Second Leg: Wednesday 13 March (A)
Ticket details will be announced on https://t.co/MbnHVeRG0J in due course. pic.twitter.com/mJImdjDiA3
Dortmund face Spurs once again with the tie balanced, as the Germans won both 2015/16 Europa League last-16 games and Spurs the two group games in last season’s Champions League.
“This is a strong opponent. I think it will be a 50-50 tie, but our aspiration is to qualify for the quarter-finals,” Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said.
Spurs should have their new stadium ready by the time the first legs are played February 12/13 and 19/20, and the return legs on March 5/6 and 12/13.
🗣 "Top side, great stadium, great support."— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 17, 2018
🗣 "Passion, good football, pace up front."
🗣 "Dangerous, especially at home." @HKane, @JanVertonghen and @HarryWinks provide their take on our #UCL last 16 opponents, @BVB.
The final is on June 1 in Atletico’s home stadium, and Ronaldo will be hoping that his return to Madrid to face Diego Simeone’s team will not be his last match of the campaign in the Wanda Metropolitano.
“We picked the best team among the second seeds. We were not lucky with the draw, but we have a very strong team, and we will try to qualify anyway. Cristiano is a Champions League man, but obviously we don’t count only on him,” Juve director Pavel Nedved said.
Youthful four-time winners Ajax refuse to be in awe of Real, who have so far not fully impressed in the post-Ronaldo era.
“It’s a tough draw, but a beautiful match. We will need to buckle up.
“But still I see chances for us. I think we have to play with guts and believe in our own qualities,” defender Daley Blind said.
But Real director Emilio Butragueno insisted: “We are the reigning champions and when we play in this tournament, everyone knows what that means.”dpa