The UEFA Champions League draw takes place on Friday (12:00 PM CET, 6:00 AM EST), and although there are some big names who didn't make into the knockout rounds there's plenty of talent to keep us all interested. The big guns that didn't fall out of the picture entirely mostly managed to top their group, which is unfortunate for the second place finishers, all of whom will be desperate to end up with APOEL Nicosia. Below is the full draw - highlight the teams to see who they can be set against.
Since only the Bundesliga and Serie A managed to place teams both second and third in their groups, the draw is pretty open for everyone else. That means all manner of fun things can happen. Here are some ties we'd love to see pulled out of the hat on Friday.
Chelsea vs. CSKA Moscow
How can you not want this to happen? Chelsea return to their spiritual fatherland. John Terry returns to the site of that penalty. A top English team that's seemed ripe for the picking this season against a Russian side that's already full of explosive talent and will get even better once they stop being so injured. Chelsea vs. CSKA would be fantastic football, and with one of the matches held at the Luzhniki Stadium, the stories would write themselves.
Arsenal Vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
I'll admit it - this is entirely because I think Andrei Arshavin will get some interesting questions in his emails and I want the entertainment. Is that so very wrong?
APOEL Nicosia vs. FC Basel
Why? Because having one of these two teams in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League would be awesome, and this is the way to guarantee that that happens. APEOL bested Zenit St. Petersburg, Porto, and Shakhtar Donetsk to get here, and Basel famously won 2-1 against Manchester United to drop the defending Premier League champions to Europe's second tier. Why not keep one of the fairytale runs going?
Barcelona Vs. Napoli
The world's best possession team against the world's best counterattackers (in the mere mortals division). If there's anyone in the runners up spots who could be more than a speedbump for Barcelona, it's Napoli, whose front three can make pretty much everyone's day hairy. Never rule out a team that pretty much singlehandedly knocks out half a billion pounds worth of Manchester City. This matchup would be spectacular.
Inter Milan vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Because it'll be funny to see Inter get hammered, mostly.
Benfica vs. AC Milan
We heard a lot of stories about how good Porto were last season, and they didn't even make it to the knockout rounds this year (although the loss of manager Andre Villas-Boas and star forward Radamel Falcao may have had something to do with it). Now, with a new-look Benfica as the standard bearers, it's time to see just how good Portuguese football is.
Real Madrid vs. Marseille and Bayern Munich vs. Lyon
Ok, these aren't that compelling, but they are what's left. Why couldn't some interesting French teams have made it?We're waiting, PSG.