UEFA: Europa League Round of 16 Preview
The UEFA Europa League Round of 16 begins on Thursday with the business end of the tournament imminent and many thoughts of Dublin’s Aviva Stadium increasingly on the horizon as the teams still involved in Europe’s second-tier competition begin to dream of silverware.
The countries of Russia, Portugal and the Netherlands still have three teams left in the competition in what has been a successful competition so far. Russia is a country which takes this tournament very seriously and with 2005 UEFA Cup winners CSKA Moscow and 2008 UEFA Cup winners Zenit Saint Petersburg along with Spartak Moscow still active hopes remain high that the nation can savour some more success on the continental stage. CSKA play against one of Portugal’s representatives, namely FC Porto, whilst Zenit and Spartak face off against two of the Dutch contingent in Twente Enschede and Ajax Amsterdam respectively.
British sides are also doing well in the Europa League with Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers meeting the remaining Dutch side in the tournament PSV Eindhoven. English duo Manchester City and Liverpool FC are amongst the favourites to lift the trophy on May 18th and many expect them to get past the challenges of Dynamo Kyiv and Sporting Braga respectively but with both teams facing away ties in the first leg things may not be as easy as it appears. The remaining Portuguese contenders SL Benfica will meet Paris Saint Germain who have the hopes of an expectant French nations resting on their shoulders. It’s a similar feeling for Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Villarreal CF who are representing German and Spanish chances of progression into the last eight.
The first legs are played on March 10th with the return fixtures completed on March 17th.
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE ROUND OF 16 DRAW
Ajax Amsterdam v Spartak Moscow
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Villarreal CF
Benfica SL v Paris Saint Germain
Braga v Liverpool FC
CSKA Moscow v FC Porto
Dynamo Kyiv v Manchester City
PSV Eindhoven v Glasgow Rangers
Twente Enschede v Zenit Saint Petersburg
(All teams on the left are home in the first leg)