PARIS - Spanish giants Barcelona were handed the toughest possible draw yesterday when they were paired with Manchester City in the plum tie of the last 16 of the Champions League.
Champions Bayern Munich were also given a hard draw as they plucked Arsenal for the second year in a row at this stage.
For the English pair, who both finished second in their groups, it was yet again a harsh lesson in the importance of winning the group.
Manchester United and Chelsea, both group winners, were given far more favourable draws against Olympiakos and Galatasaray respectively.
Arsenal and City had the toughest possible groups, facing one each of last season's finalists.
City came within a goal of pipping Bayern to top spot in their group when a 3-2 win in Munich was one goal short to overhaul the Bavarians.
Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini said Barca would be the more upset of the pair over the draw.
"I think Barcelona will be very concerned that they have drawn us. They are not the team of two years ago."
But Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino insisted neither side would be delighted with the draw.
"City will not have wanted to play against Barcelona, either.
"They are scoring goals with ease so we are not going to discover them now. We want to play well in the tie and obviously win it."
Arsenal were within minutes of winning their group despite losing 2-0 at Napoli on the final match-day but Borussia Dortmund's late winner in Marseille allowed them to snatch top spot.
Last season, Arsenal drew Bayern in the last 16 and seemed to be as good as out when they lost the first leg 3-1.
But they came within a whisker of making the quarter-finals when taking the second leg 2-0, going out only on away goals.