Sense of deja vu as Champions League resumes
Eleven of the clubs who reached the last 16 stage a year ago are involved again.
BERNE - The Champions League will have an air of familiarity about it when it resumes this week with 11 of the clubs who reached the last 16 stage a year ago involved again.
To add to the sense of deja vu, three of the ties will be repeats from last season's knockout stages with holders Real Madrid facing Schalke, Manchester City playing Barcelona and Paris St Germain taking on Chelsea.
Ten of the 16 sides also reached the same round two seasons ago and, as usual, the big five leagues dominate with 13 clubs hailing from either the English, Spanish, German, French and Italian leagues.
With only two matches per evening, the round of 16 will not be complete until March 18 but PSG get the ball rolling when they host Chelsea on Tuesday in a repeat of last season's quarter-final which Jose Mourinho's team won on away goals.
The clash pits David Luiz, now with the French side, against his former club.
The French champions, aiming to reach the last eight for the third season in a row, have a 32-match unbeaten home run in Europe although they are currently third in Ligue 1, hugely disappointing considering their financial resources.
They stuttered again on Saturday when they were held 2-2 at home by Caen after a spate of injuries left them with nine men and they conceded two goals in the last two minutes.
"We're a little bit in trouble at the moment, but from Sunday morning we'll have to focus on Chelsea and convince ourselves that we can challenge them," said coach Laurent Blanc.
Shakhtar Donetsk, Ukrainian champions for the last five seasons, will be thrown in at the deep end when they host Bayern Munich in Tuesday's other game, their first competitive match since early December.
Bayern Munich themselves struggled to get into gear following their own winter break in Qatar but blew away the cobwebs on Saturday with an 8-0 drubbing of Hamburg SV.
The game will be in Lviv to escape the conflict in eastern Ukraine where Donetsk is held by Russian-backed separatists.
The Pitmen have failed to win their last four home matches against Bundesliga sides and their last success was against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1980-81 UEFA Cup.
The good news for the Ukrainians is that they have managed to hold on to Brazilian striker Luiz Adriano, the competition's top scorer with nine goals, despite interest from AS Roma.