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PSG to play Chelsea in Champions League clash

French champions PSG were drawn against premier league club Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League on Monday, giving Laurent's Blanc's team a chance of revenge after being knocked out by Jose Mourinho's side last year. France's other Champions League club Monaco will also play English opposition in the form of Arsenal.

PSG to play Chelsea in Champions League clash
PSG to play Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League next year. Photo: AFP

It's France vs the UK in the last 16 of the Champions League after PSG were paired with Chelsea and Arsenal against Monaco in Monday's draw.

That means Laurent Blanc's side will have a chance for revenge after being knocked out by Jose Mourinho's Chelsea side in the quarter finals of last year's competition.

Speaking after the draw PSG's Qatari president Nasser al-Khelaifi said he was confident his side could overcome the current Premier League leaders.

"Chelsea is a good draw for us. I am very confident. I trust my coach and my players to show the best of PSG on the field," he said in a statement.

"Last year was a good experience, it was a lesson for us that must not be repeated," he added.
 
Last season, Chelsea and José Mourinho knocked out PSG in the quarter finals, despite winning the first leg 3-1 in Paris. They then went down 2-0 at Stamford Bridge with a late Chelsea goal, knocking them out on the away goals rule.
 
Chelsea secretary David Barnard told Sky Sports News: "PSG are known to us as we played them in the quarters last year and they've got David Luiz playing for them too.
 
"It's a good draw logistically too for our supporters.
 
"Both sides have very different squads from last year, so if it was PSG or anyone else, it would've been the same situation."
 
The draw will also see Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger return to his old club Monaco and Manchester City will tackle Barcelona.
 
Elswhere Holders Real Madrid were given a palatable pairing against German side Schalke 04, and last year's beaten finalists Atletico Madrid come up against Bayer Leverkusen.

Italian champions Juventus will have to overcome Borussia Dortmund, and German giants Bayern Munich, who beat Borussia in the 2013 final, play Shakhtar Donetsk.

Swiss outfit Basel's reward for knocking out Liverpool at the group stage was a match-up with two-time winners Porto.

The last 16 first leg games are scheduled for 17/18 and 24/25 February, with the second legs on 10/11 and 17/18 March.

The final for Europe's elite club competition will take place in Berlin's Olympic stadium next June.

Here's the full draw for the last 16:

Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Bayern Munich

Basel (SUI) v Porto (POR)

Arsenal (ENG) v Monaco (FRA)

Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Bayern Munich

Schalke 04 (GER) v Real Madrid (ESP)

Bayer Leverkusen (GER) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)

Juventus (ITA) v Borussia Dortmund (GER)

Manchester City (ENG) v Barcelona (ESP)

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v Chelsea (ENG)

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FOOTBALL

OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP

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