The same old teams in the same old patterns – which is why last eight must not be yet other procession for Europe’s elite

This time, nobody can blame the draw. The last 16 of this season’s Champions League was a drab, largely unimpressive thing, salvaged to an extent by its final week as Arsenal came through a fraught second leg against Porto and Atl├ętico Madrid came from 2-0 down on aggregate to eliminate Internazionale on penalties. But for the most part it was a plod of the predictable and the uninspired.

To an extent that was simply a function of the ties, a mixture of mismatches and clashes between sides who for one reason or another have been out of sorts this season. Even the meeting of the Spanish and Italian champions felt weirdly insignificant given how disappointing Barcelona and Napoli have been.

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