PSG coach Thomas Tuchel welcomes Man United challenge in Champions League

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Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel is ready for the “great test” of facing Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Being paired against the runaway Ligue 1 leaders PSG was perhaps not the kindest outcome which under-pressure United boss Jose Mourinho would have been hoping for.

While the Red Devils were handed the most testing of fixtures, the other English teams will all face German opposition following Monday’s draw for the knockout stages.

Premier League leaders Liverpool, who beat United 3-1 on Sunday, tackle German giants Bayern Munich, while Manchester City were paired against Schalke.

Tottenham, who qualified as runners-up in their group behind Barcelona, will take on current Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, for whom England teenage forward Jadon Sancho continues to impress.

It is, however, United’s clash with the French side, unbeaten in their own domestic division this season with some 44 points from 16 league games, which proved the pick of the ties.

United have never faced PSG before, but could come up against former midfielder Angel Di Maria in their squad, as well as Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, and France World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe.

Tuchel’s side scored 17 goals in their Group C campaign to qualify ahead of Liverpool, but were beaten 3-2 at Anfield during September.

The German coach maintains there will be no sense of complacency when they head back to England, the first leg set for February 12, with the game in Paris on March 6.

“We have the quality to win at Old Trafford. I’m confident for my team, but it’s a great test, a challenge,” Tuchel said at a press conference ahead of the Ligue 1 game against Orleans.

United will have to contend with the might of Neymar and Mbappe.

United will have to contend with the might of Neymar and Mbappe.

“If I were a spectator, I would watch this game on television.

“The round of 16 is always tough. I do not think we are favourites.

“We must respect the clubs that have experience of these major meetings in the Champions League, such as Manchester United. They have won this competition several times.

“It will be important to show our desire to win, but also that in the two months before we play every game thoroughly – it would be a great mistake to now just focus on the Champions League game.”

Spurs host Dortmund on February 13, and will play in Germany on March 5.

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, have shown form in Europe, winning Group E, despite their lack of consistency in the Bundesliga, where they are third and trail Dortmund by nine points.

Schalke are down in 13th place, and came through Group D as runners-up. City will be away in the first leg on February 20 and at home on March 12.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic believes the Germans face “the team of the hour” in Liverpool.

“These are the challenges that you look forward to as a player and that you have to overcome,” he said on the Bayern website.

The first leg is set for Anfield on February 19 and the return fixture will be in the final set of games on March 13.

The Video Assistant Referee system will be in place for the Champions League knockout stages.

Elsewhere in Monday’s draw, Atletico Madrid will take on Serie A leaders Juventus, Lyon play Barcelona, Roma face Porto, while Dutch club Ajax are set to meet holders Real Madrid.

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Real Madrid and Barcelona will fancy their chances in the UCL round of 16

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Both holders Real Madrid and La Liga leaders Barcelona have been handed favourable ties in the Champions League round of 16.

Madrid will play Ajax, who finished second in their group behind Bayern Munich, and Barcelona face a Lyon side that are currently 13 points behind Ligue 1 powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain.

Meanwhile, Premier League leaders Liverpool have been handed a Champions League last-16 tie against German giants Bayern Munich.

In the first fixture drawn in Nyon on Monday morning, Premier League champions Manchester City were paired against German club Schalke.

Manchester United were handed a tough tie against French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Tottenham Hotspur, who qualified as runners-up in their group behind Barcelona, will also face Bundesliga opposition as they face Borussia Dortmund.

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Juventus are favourites for Champions League, but Barcelona and Real Madrid not in top five

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Juventus look like the favourites at the moment.

The field of 16 teams for the Champions League knockout stages is set after this week’s fixtures, with some teams acquitting themselves better than others during the group stage.

Real Madrid may have won this competition three years running, but on current form it looks like there will be a new champion at the end of the season. But who?

Here’s our top-five favourites to win the 2018/19 Champions League.

1. Juventus

In a group with Manchester United and Valencia, there was the potential for slip-ups – and indeed, Juventus lost to United at home despite leading in the 85th minute, and then suffered a shock reverse to Young Boys in the final game of the group stage, nearly costing themselves top spot in the process. But they took that top spot, nonetheless.

For a team that has been knocking on the door of European success for the last few years, there were encouraging signs that the team is ready to take that final step. One, of course, is the mere presence of Cristiano Ronaldo. But there was also an imperiousness on show when they beat Valencia 2-0 away from home with 10 men, and when they brushed aside United in the away game. Right now, they look like the best team in the competition.

2. Liverpool

Last season’s beaten finalists were in danger of crashing out heading into their final group game. But nothing symbolises why this year’s Liverpool are considered an even better bet to win the trophy than that final clash against Napoli. They battled to a 1-0 victory to seal their round-of-16 spot – they would have been hard-pressed to manage that sort of result last season.

Though finishing second in the group makes their route a little harder, this Liverpool side would probably fancy themselves against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich. Jurgen Klopp’s long wait for a trophy as Reds manager could finally be coming to an end.

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3. Paris Saint-Germain

PSG had to answer a lot of doubts during the group stage. They lost their opener away to Liverpool, and four games in the only team they’d beaten was Red Star Belgrade – a state of affairs that left them with just five points.

But they won their last two to top the group, and now they can look at finally getting the Champions League trophy that the club so desperately desires. Thomas Tuchel has drilled a new level of discipline and nous into the side, and in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe they have players who can turn a game in an instant. Could this finally be their year?

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4. Manchester City

Manchester City had their slip-ups – losing to Lyon at home, falling behind to Hoffenheim twice – and Lyon in particular showed up City’s defence. With top spot secured on the final day, however, they can look ahead to conquering the competition that, like with PSG, has become their biggest dream.

Their form overall, both in the Champions League and domestically, sets them out as one of Europe’s best sides, though the same thing was said last season as well. Ultimately, until they win this competition, their credentials will be questioned. But they’ve got an excellent chance of silencing the doubts.

Manchester City

5. Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund have only lost once all season across competitions – a record matched by just one club in Europe’s top five leagues, PSG. This team looks like the 2010-13 vintage which won the Bundesliga twice in a row and then reached the Champions League final.

Their dismantling of Atletico Madrid at home, in a stunning 4-0 win, should be enough to convince anyone that Dortmund are for real. They also finished the group stage with the best defensive record of all teams, conceding only twice. And they have a host of talented players who are all in top form. Dortmund are poised for a deep run.

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