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English teams land good UCL draw, but Chelsea have it all to do vs. Barcelona

Stewart Robson joins Alison Bender to assess the chances of the five English teams in the UCL round of 16.

Chelsea feared the worst and the worst actually happened, as the Blues discovered that the price for failing to win their Champions League group is a round of 16 date with Barcelona and Lionel Messi.

Two draws at Stamford Bridge, at home to Roma and Atletico Madrid, saw the Premier League champions miss the chance to progress as group winners and, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool were rewarded for winning their groups with easier knockout ties against Basel, Sevilla and Porto respectively, Antonio Conte's men must now prepare for another date with Barcelona.

Spurs, who topped Group H ahead of reigning European champions Real Madrid, will be wary of their tie with Juventus, but no English club has come out of the draw as badly as Chelsea.

The only good news for 2012 Champions League winners is that their record against Barca is better than most -- five wins and five defeats -- and they have memories of their dramatic semifinal fightback in Camp Nou five years ago to boost morale ahead of the two-legged encounter.

But regardless of their impressive pedigree against Barcelona, it really is a nightmare draw for Chelsea.

Despite the summer departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain -- who will face Real in the tie of the round -- Barcelona have made a formidable start to the season, winning their group ahead of Juventus without suffering defeat and they sit five points clear at the top of La Liga with an unbeaten record so far.

Messi may now be 30, but the Argentine magician is showing no signs of deterioration and, for all of Eden Hazard's talismanic qualities for Chelsea, the Barcelona icon remains the most lethal matchwinner in world football.

Had Chelsea claimed just one more point in their group, or turned one of those home draws into a win, they would have progressed as group winners ahead of Roma -- who landed a tie against Shakhtar Donetsk. But Barcelona it is and, with the second-leg away, Chelsea have given themselves a mountain to climb in Catalonia.

Chelsea got past Barcelona the last time the teams met in 2012.

Spurs, having made such an impact by defeating Real on the way to winning their group, would have hoped for a better draw than Juventus, who reached their second Champions League final in three years before losing to Real in Cardiff last season.

It is a tie that Spurs will believe they can win, but Massimiliano Allegri's team possess vast Champions League experience and pedigree in the form of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio and Mario Mandzukic.

The goals of Gonzalo Higuain and mercurial talent of Paulo Dybala make them an even greater threat, so facing Juve will be a true test of Mauricio Pochettino and his young team.

It will be a tie in which Spurs need to exploit their youthful exuberance and potential, rather than allow Juve to turn those qualities into weaknesses.

London has won just one Champions League title over the years -- Chelsea's 2012 success -- and the odds on the city winning a second have lengthened after this draw.

The flipside for the English clubs comes with the more favourable ties handed to City, United and Liverpool.

City, 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League after Sunday's 2-1 win at Old Trafford, have now been installed as favourites win the Champions League after landing Basel.

Pep Guardiola will be confident of progress.

The Swiss champions edged out CSKA Moscow as runners-up in Group A largely thanks to their 1-0 win against United at St Jakob Park last month, but they will be massive outsiders against City, notwithstanding their impressive home record against English clubs. Pep Guardiola's team are on a different level to most clubs at the moment and they should brush Basel aside to make it into the quarterfinals.

United will also be confident of overcoming Sevilla in a tie which sees the last two Europa League winners go head-to-head. Sevilla held Liverpool to two draws in Group E, but Jose Mourinho's team will expect to make it past them and into the last eight.

Liverpool's clash with Porto is not without its perils, with the 2004 Champions League winners currently unbeaten at the top of the Portuguese Primera Liga, but with the second-leg at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp's team have a huge advantage in their favour.

So the Premier League can expect at last three clubs to make it into the last eight, setting up the prospect of some heavyweight all-English tussles involving City, United and Liverpool in the quarterfinals.

Spurs against Juventus is a tough one to call and will depend largely on how, and when, Pochettino's players emerge from their mini-slump. But as for Chelsea, they have it all to do against Barcelona and have nobody to blame but themselves for the predicament they now find themselves in.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_


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