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Friday, December 16, 2011
Champions League round of 16 draw


The Champions League round of 16 is set, and now the two-month waiting period begins until the matches kick off on Valentine's Day. Here are five notes on the winners and losers from Friday's festivities in Switzerland.

•  The three happiest teams should be Bayern Munich, Lyon and Zenit, as each received its best possible draw. Bayern Munich is a 93.3 percent favorite to advance versus Basel. Lyon has a 72.7 percent edge over APOEL, the first Cypriot club in the knockout stage. Zenit also received its most favorable matchup, despite having only a 48.1 percent chance to advance against Benfica.

•  The most disappointed trio is Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal and Inter Milan, as each received its worst possible draw. Leverkusen has only an 8.8 percent chance to advance against defending champion Barcelona. Based largely on form this season, Arsenal is an underdog against AC Milan, which has a 57.5 chance to win. Struggling Inter Milan has a 38.7 chance against Marseille, in the sole round-of-16 meeting between former champions.

•  The most glamorous matchups are undoubtedly the pairings of Italy versus England. The all-time series between AC Milan and Arsenal is level at 1-1-2, though Arsenal eliminated Milan in this round four seasons ago, 2-0 on aggregate following a 2-0 win at the San Siro. Arsenal has advanced in all three previous matchups with Italian clubs. AC Milan has been eliminated by English sides in its most recent Champions League appearances, falling in the round of 16 to Tottenham last year, to Manchester United in 2009 and to Arsenal in '08.

•  Napoli and Chelsea have never played before, with Chelsea a 56.2 percent favorite to reach its fifth quarterfinals in six seasons. This was the second-worst draw for Chelsea, which has split its previous series with Italian teams, eliminating Juventus in 2007-08 and falling to Inter Milan in 2008-09. With these two difficult matchups for English sides, there is a 25.2 percent chance that neither club makes the quarters, which would be the first time since 1995-96 that no English club reached the last eight.

• Real Madrid reached the semifinals last season, ending a six-year stretch of being eliminated in the Round of 16. The quarterfinals seem likely for Los Blancos this season, as they are a 92.3 percent favorite over CSKA Moscow. That is one of four first-time matchups in the Round of 16, along with Napoli-Chelsea, Lyon-APOEL and Zenit-Benfica.