8 things you need to look out for in the Champions League last 16

Whether you were delighted or underwhelmed with Monday’s ball picking, Chris Flanagan says there’s still plenty to get excited about...

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1. Last chance to see Zlatan in England?

You could hear the groans from Stamford Bridge when Chelsea were drawn against Paris Saint-Germain yet again, although frankly Jose Mourinho's men could be playing Speranta Nisporeni from the Moldovan league and you'd fear for their chances right now.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may not have been entirely enthusiastic about the idea of facing Chelsea again either, given his red card at Stamford Bridge last season, although the Swede has plenty of reasons to be on the top of his game this time around. His contract expires at the end of the season and although he has been linked with a move to the Premier League, there is also a possibility that he could leave for Europe for good, amid interest from China and the US.

This, then, could be the 34-year-old's last Champions League campaign, and the Chelsea clash may be his last game in England. Will he go out in style?

2. Sanchez and Bellerin versus Barcelona

Yes, Arsenal versus Barcelona is nothing new. The sides faced each other in the knockout stages in both 2009/10 and 2010/11, although it's now a whole five seasons since their last meeting. It's been so long that Arsenal probably can't remember even who plays for Barcelona any more. A chap called Lionel something? Gary Lineker, does he still play for them? No, it's all a hazy memory now.


Arsenal are aiming to get past the last 16 for the first time since 2010

A few things have changed, though, notably the likely presence of ex-Barcelona duo Alexis Sanchez and Hector Bellerin in the Arsenal line-up. How will Sanchez fare against his old club? And how can Bellerin stop Barça's lethal strike force of Romario and Sonny Anderson?

3. Will any Man City players be riled by a bib?

The last time Manchester City faced Dynamo Kiev, things didn't go very well for Mario Balotelli. The Italian suffered from bizarre grass allergies in the away leg of the Europa League clash in 2011 and then produced one of the finest moments of his City career as he completely failed in the basic task of trying to put on a bib in the warm-up for the second leg.

This incident clearly didn't please Mario – no bib crosses Balotelli and gets away with it. He was so riled that nine minutes before half-time he went all Jackie Chan on Goran Popov and earned himself a red card. Without him, City went out.

Sadly City don't quite have anyone like Balotelli any more. Kevin De Bruyne is unlikely to boot anyone in the chest or be entirely flummoxed by an inanimate object, so this time Manuel Pellegrini’s side will probably just stick to playing football. And, most likely, winning.

4. Cristiano’s record chase

By the closing stages of Malmo's defeat at Real Madrid on matchday six, FFT reckons some of the Swedish club's defenders were so dizzy that they weren't entirely sure where they were or what the score was. You're at the Bernabeu, lads, and it's 7-0. Oh wait, make that 8-0.

Cristiano Ronaldo helped himself to four goals to take his tally for the Champions League campaign to 11 already, a record for the group stage. With a possible seven matches still ahead of him, he stands a realistic chance of beating the competition record for goals in a season – set by Ronaldo himself two seasons ago, when he netted 17 times.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Malmo

CR7 celebrates one of his four at the Bernabeu

Roma aren't exactly the worst opponents for Real to have drawn, then, given that they conceded 16 goals in the group stage, at nearly three goals a game, yet somehow still qualified. That was also a Champions League record. All the best with stopping Cristiano…

5. Kingsley Coman versus his own club

Currently on a two-year loan from Juventus to Bayern, he will be allowed to play – just as Thibaut Courtois was for Atletico Madrid against Chelsea

Bayern Munich and Juventus seem like two clubs who ought to have played each other in the knockout stages many times before, but actually they haven't. They’ve met in the group stage in three separate campaigns but their quarter-final meeting of 2013 is the only time they've played a knockout fixture. Bayern won 4-0 on aggregate and went on to win the trophy that year.

There could be some interesting reunions when the sides meet again this season. Mario Mandzukic has found his way to Juventus from Bayern, via Atletico Madrid, while Arturo Vidal made a rather more direct move in the other direction this summer. Vidal was a key part of the Juve side that reached the Champions League final last season and could play an important role in this tie. Just as long as no one lets him loose in a Ferrari before then, of course.

Even more intriguing is the fact that Kingsley Coman is currently on a two-year loan from Juventus to Bayern, and will be allowed to play – just as Thibaut Courtois was for Atletico Madrid against Chelsea two seasons ago.

6. Can Antoine Griezmann step up?

Atletico Madrid face PSV Eindhoven in the last 16, and the next few months could tell us a lot about Rojiblancos forward Griezmann. After netting 25 times in his first season with Atletico, he has 12 already this season – including four in the Champions League group stage.

The 24-year-old doesn’t yet have a Champions League knockout goal to his name but a tie against PSV should give him chance to break that duck and make his mark on the latter stages of the competition for the first time. Atletico look strong again this season, not least thanks to him.

After that comes a home European Championship with France in the summer. The opportunity is there for Griezmann to emerge of one of 2016's biggest stars, if he can make that final step to join the world's top players.

7. Just how good are Zenit under AVB?

It's amazing how successful clubs can become once they announce that Andre Villas-Boas is leaving. Chelsea never looked back after the Portuguese was given the push midway through the 2011/12 campaign. On the brink of elimination against Napoli one minute, they were European champions the next.

The news of Villas-Boas's exit has done no harm at Zenit either, although on this occasion the ex-Tottenham boss is leaving of his own volition and sticking around until the end of the season.

Andre Villas-Boas, Zenit

AVB announced he was quitting in September

Zenit haven't always convinced in the Champions League but they won their first five matches in the group stage, largely due to the form of Hulk and Artyom Dzyuba. They were in a pretty weak group, though, it must be said – and they'll face bigger tests than Gent, Valencia and Lyon from now on. Zenit look capable of edging out Benfica in the last 16, but are they capable of going even further?

8. It's Wolfsburg versus Gent, and it's live!

Fed up of watching Chelsea play PSG and Arsenal take on Barcelona? Then there's good news. Wolfsburg and Gent have never played each other in a competitive match, and go head to head in the last 16.

Watch the titans of Wolfsburg face the behemoths of Gent, live and exclusive in the comfort of your own living room. Football doesn't get any more exciting than this. Will Nicklas Bendtner still be rubbish? And will Gent's team contain anyone you've ever heard of? Stay tuned to find out.

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