Yesterday’s Champions League and Europa League draw opened a new page for the London clubs. It is an undeniable fact that when English teams play in the big tournaments there’s always a surprise, with thrilling and high-skilled games throughout the 90 minutes.
This year the draw defined a couple of games never played on an English ground, as well as opened an opportunity for Lionel Messi to finally score against Chelsea.
Perhaps the most anticipated London based game will be Chelsea against Barcelona. The two teams last played in the 2012 semi-finals. After two dramatic games, the Blues reached the final, later won against Bayern Munich. It was that same game when Leo Messi missed a penalty with Petr Cech at the goal and chances defied him scoring his first goal against Chelsea. Later, in 2016 Messi scored against Cech, yet it was after his transfer to Arsenal. Chelsea is still the solid wall through which Leo can’t score. Now, in early 2018 he will have that opportunity.
The other big game fans are looking forward to is Tottenham – Juventus. First edition. After a stunning performance by Spurs and the solid 3-0 win against Real Madrid, Pochettino’s players will face the Old Lady and its iron defence. This season is the right time for the North Londoners to prove they are a growing force on the European stage, especially against an experienced team like Juventus.
On the other side of European elite, Arsenal are set to face the Swedish Östersunds. It will be a game first of its kind, yet it won’t be the first time Arsene Wenger meets a Swedish side in Europe. Arsenal last player AIK in season 1999-00, almost 18 years ago. The odds are in Arsenals favour, but in these tournaments it is easy for the underdogs to become winners. After a hard fought qualifying season, beating Galatasaray and Athletic Bilbao, Östersunds are the first Swedish team to reach a knockout stage in Europa League. No doubt they will be motivated and thirsty for a win against Wenger’s side.
Champions League returns Tuesday 13 February 2018 and Europa League Thursday 15 February 2018.
Words: Nikolay Kolev