Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

UEFA Europa League: Round of 16 Preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 10, 2010
AS Roma v Panathinaikos

Djibril Cissé played his part in Panathinaikos' win over AS Roma in the Round of 32

The Europa League has reached the Round of 16 stage and there are some very interesting ties involving some of Europe’s biggest clubs with the first legs being played on Thursday, March 11th and the second leg one week later. Here is Stoppage Time’s guide to all of the fixtures:

ATLÉTICO de MADRID (Spain) v SPORTING (Portugal)

Both of these teams got through against tough opposition in order to set up this Iberian derby. Atlético Madrid secured a last-minute winner away at Turkish league leaders Galatasaray thanks to deadly Diego Forlán and now retain hopes of a cup double as los Rojiblancos have already qualified for the Spanish Cup final in May against Sevilla. Sporting had just as tough an encounter against Everton FC in the last round having to turn around a 2-1 first leg deficit to get to this stage. Three goals from Miguel Veloso, Pedro Mendes and Matías Ariel Fernández gave Sporting a 3-0 second leg victory and fans of The Lions now have high hopes of getting to a second UEFA final in five years.

BENFICA SL (Portugal) v OLYMPIQUE de MARSEILLE (France)

Benfica are in fine form and their 5-1 demolition of German side Hertha BSC has only increased confidence in the Eagles’ camp that this could be their year for some long awaited major silverware. Standing in their way are French side Marseille who comfortably saw off Danish side FC København 6-2 in the last round with Bakari Koné and Hatem Ben Arfa scoring two goals apiece over the tie.

HAMBURGER SV (Germany) v RSC ANDERLECHT (Belgium)

German side Hamburger SV qualified for this stage having negotiated their way past Dutch side PSV Eindhoven thanks to the away goals rule. After a narrow 1-0 home win in Hamburg thanks to Marcell Jansen’s strike, the second leg in Eindhoven was a fast-paced thriller with goals from Mladen Petrić and Piotr Trachowski just being enough to secure progression to the last 16 for the Germans after a 3-3 aggregate draw over the two legs. Anderlecht were involved in a controversial fixture against Athletic Bilbao which saw ugly scenes at the end of the first leg which finished 1-1. In the second leg the Belgians astonishingly put four past their Basque visitors to come away with a 5-1 aggregate win and their next game sees a repeat of the 1976-77 European Cup Winners’ Cup final against the Germans.

JUVENTUS FC (Italy) v FULHAM FC (England)

Roy Hodgson’s Fulham side surprised everybody by knocking out the defending champions Shakhtar Donetsk in the last round. Having won the first leg at home 2-1 the Cottagers managed to see off the Ukrainian side with a 1-1 draw in the away leg although the overall victory was marred slightly by a red card being shown to Danny Murphy in stoppage time. Italian giants Juventus did the hard work in Amsterdam defeating Dutch record champions AFC Ajax 2-1 in the first leg thanks to a brace from Brazilian striker Amauri and then holding out for a 0-0 draw in the second leg to secure qualification for the next round.

LILLE OSC (France) v LIVERPOOL FC (England)

With their illustrious opponents being in mixed form this season Lille OSC will quietly fancy their chances of defeating Liverpool in this round. However the Merseyside giants, who won this tournament three times in its previous guise of the UEFA Cup, have nothing else to play for in terms of silverware and are putting all of their eggs into the European basket. The Reds managed to see off Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni 4-1 on aggregate in the last round to set up this tie against a French side who are having a good season domestically and who knocked out Turkish side Fenerbahçe in the Round of 32 by a 3-2 aggregate scoreline. Arguably one of the more intriging ties in the round.

PANATHINAIKOS (Greece) v STANDARD LIEGE (Belgium)

Djibril Cissé was the hero for the Greek side in the last round when they surprised an in-form AS Roma team by defeating the Italians 3-2 home and away to secure a 6-4 aggregate win. Belgian champions Standard had it tougher when coming from 2-0 down at home to win 3-2 against Red Bull Salzburg, a team who had previously had a 100% record in this season’s competition. With the second leg in Austria remaining goalless the Belgians just scraped through to face the Prasinoi (The Greens) who have seemingly overcome a slump in domestic form to still lead the Greek League whilst Standard’s only hope of silverware this season remains in this competition.

RUBIN KAZAN (Russia) v VfL WOLFSBURG (Germany)

The champions of Russia and Germany meet in the Round of 16 in what should be an interesting two-legged affair. Rubin didn’t seem handicapped by a lack of recent action as they defeated Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv 3-0 on aggregate in the last round having not played any football since the end of the 2009 domestic season last December. VfL Wolfsburg were impressive in their 6-3 aggregate victory over Spanish side Villarreal CF and are now starting to see a return to form of their precious strike force Edin Džeko and Grafite, the latter in particular was struggling for goals earlier in the season but has scored six goals in his last seven games in all competitions.

VALENCIA CF (Spain) v WERDER BREMEN (Germany)

If Bremen’s super striker Claudio Pizarro can remain in current form then there’s every chance that Werder can go one better than last season and lift the Europa League trophy in Hamburg this season. Bremen pulled back a 1-0 first leg deficit to defeat Dutch Eredivisie leaders FC Twente Enschede 4-1 in the second leg thanks mainly to a hat-trick from Peruvian hitman Pizarro who has scored an impressive eight goals in the competition so far. Valencia were the only team to need extra-time in order to progress to the last 16 as they eventually saw off Belgian side Club Brugge in the last round thanks to two goals from Pablo Hernández to claim a 3-1 aggregate victory.

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