A quick glance at the eight Champions League groups indicate that three were won by German clubs, indicating the strength of the Bundesliga at the moment, but although Shalke topped their group ahead of Arsenal, they are toiling in seventh place domestically and sacked manager, Hubb Stevens, this week. Bayern Munich are nine points clear at the top with Borussia Dortmund third.
Shalke would be an excellent draw.
Paris Saint-Germain were flooded with cash this year and despite a slow start are no top of Ligue 1. We met their manager, Carlo Ancelotti at the same stage of the tournament six years ago when Gordon Strachan took Milan to extra time. We came close to progressing and perhaps would have had the referee awarded Celtic a late penalty for handball. Milan got the breaks against Celtic and went on to win the tournament.
Ancelotti knows he would face a stiff test if drawn against Celtic.
Juventus are Italian champions and sei seven points clear at the top of Serie A. They eliminated the tournament holders in the last round and are a formidable opponent.
Malaga are fourth in La Liga behind Barca, Atletico and Real Madrid. They are clearly not in the class of Barcelona but any team within five points of Real in that league are clearly formidable. Malaga breezed their Champions League group but a draw against un-fancied Celtic might present them with a few interesting challenges.
Manchester United are top of the English league and hot favourites to retain the title. Games against English opposition tend to be hyped by the UK media but for fans lack the sophistication of a ‘foreign’ opponent. They would present a difficult challenge without the sense of adventure others would provide.
Shalke or Malaga would be ideal but Paris in the springtime would be nice.
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