Messi v Ronaldo as Prem quartet learn Champions League opponents

Steve Pearson

Cristiano Ronaldo will square off against Lionel Messi after Manchester United were drawn against PSG, while Liverpool and Chelsea’s Champions League Round of 16 ties look far easier on paper.

England had their full compliment of clubs represented in the draw for the Round of 16 stage. Liverpool led the way, becoming the first English side to win all six of their group stage matches.

They were joined in the draw as group winners by Manchester City and Manchester United. City finished one point ahead of PSG to nab top spot, while United beat out Unai Emery’s Villarreal by the same margin.

The one surprise came in the form of Chelsea. Thomas Tuchel’s side let a 3-2 lead slip in the final group clash with Zenit St Petersburg to allow Juventus the potential of an easier draw on paper.

Ultimately, Chelsea escaped disaster in the draw after earning a plum tie with Lille. Liverpool too can look forward to their contests after avoiding the likes of PSG and Inter Milan when drawn to face RB Salzburg.

Manchester United were not as fortunate, however, with Maurico Pochettino’s PSG picked out to face the Red Devils in the Champions League Round of 16.

Manchester City, meanwhile, will face Europa League holders Villarreal.

Champions League draw in full

Benfica v Real Madrid

Villarreal v Manchester City

Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich

RB Salzburg v Liverpool

Inter Milan v Ajax

Sporting Lisbon v Juventus

Chelsea v Lille

PSG v Manchester United

The first legs will be played on February 15, 16, 22 and 23. The second legs will be played on March 8, 9, 15 and 16.

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Rangnick appointment compared to critical Liverpool moment

Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick during their victory over Norwich

Meanwhile, Ralf Rangnick has been tipped to transform Manchester United in the same way Gerard Houllier did with Liverpool, after being compared to predecessors Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

According to Robbie Fowler, United currently find themselves in a very similar situation to the one he was involved with when Houllier replaced Roy Evans at Anfield in 1998.

Explaining the comparison, Fowler told the Daily Mirror: “Why didn’t we win anything? I’d say it came to balance… or a lack of it. We couldn’t quite find a consistency between attack and defence.

“I think United have the same problem, and I think they reacted just as Liverpool did back in the 90s when they brought in Gerard Houllier.

“There was always this stigma – unfairly – that he [Evans] was somehow ‘too nice’. I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean. But you get the impression the United board felt the same about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“Again, I don’t know if that’s correct. But I think you can see that like my Liverpool team, there isn’t the consistency, or direction, or balance. They don’t get it right in all areas at the same time.

“Liverpool responded by bringing in Houllier. He brought in a school master approach, supposedly tougher and more disciplined.

“You get the impression Rangnick is like that too, and yes, it could work. But I do believe that to be successful in management these days, you have to be more collaborative, understand your players better.

“Maybe that’s why Mourinho didn’t work at Old Trafford, maybe that is why they went down the route of Solskjaer. Now it seems they thought he was too soft. I guess the hope is that Rangnick is somewhere in between.”

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