“It’s not a complicated draw,” Luis Enrique said prior to the Champions League draw. “Pick the second most difficult team, or the one that has the most points, and that’s our team.”
The manager almost laughed. “There’s not any surprises anymore.”
The crazy thing is, he’s right. Barcelona drew Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, what was considered the consensus second-most difficult team after Bayern Munich that the Blaugrana could draw.
It’s also true that PSG had the most points of all second-place teams in the group stage, along with Bayern and Real Madrid (whom Barcelona couldn’t draw.)
But maybe it doesn’t take a soothsayer to predict this. Barcelona’s draws have become quite stale. The Catalans seem to draw the same two or three teams every year, and usually difficult ones at that.
Barcelona have drawn PSG four times in the last five seasons. And we are starting to see Manchester CIty every year. Arsenal is another one that seems to come up all the time. Back about 3-5 years ago, it was AC Milan every year. At least for the moment they’re not good enough to qualify for the Champions League, otherwise we’d see Milan every year again.
There’s a limited pool of teams, but why does Barcelona always get the same, rather difficult draws? It’s a mystery. It’s probably random, but even still, as Luis Enrique says, it’s so predictable it’s not particularly surprising...