English teams face tricky ties as the Europa League draw is concluded
Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle United have all been handed tricky ties to Eastern European opponents for their round of 32 fixtures in the Europa League. Zenit St. Petersburg, Sparta Prague and Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine wait to face Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle in the second stage of the competition, respectively.
Hugo Lloris, who has been cementing his place in the Tottenham team meanwhile would be looking forward to meeting his former club Lyon. It will be interesting to see if Villas-Boas gets Lloris in the team sheet for his emotional return to his French roots or if Friedel gets the nod for European competition.
Chelsea’s fortunes may have taken a turn for the worse as they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage. However the Blues may have more to look forward to than may have had anticipated. If the Londoners go on to win the competition they will become only the fourth after Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich to win all of the major European trophies.
Former Chelsea and current Sparta Prague midfielder Jiri Jarosik will be particularly looking forward to the tie.
Newcastle will relish their chances against Metalist, who may be considered to be one of the few remaining minnows in the competition. But, they present the surprise of the unknown and a dangerous one at that. A grueling 4000-mile journey up in the chilly Eastern part of the continent will surely put the faiths of the Toon Army to its test.
Liverpool have probably the hardest task of all, squaring off against the dangerous Zenit St. Petersburg who will have the enigmatic Brazilian Hulk to bolster its line-up. The Reds however will have the advantage of playing the second leg at home at Anfield.
Defending Champions Atletico Madrid will square off against Rubin Kazan of Russia in what seems to be a real tester for the Spaniards.
Here is the detailed draw for the next two round of the knock-out stage:
BATE Borisov v Fenerbahce
Inter Milan v Cluj
Levante v Olympiakos
Zenit St. Petersburg v Liverpool
Dynamo Kiev v Bordeaux
Bayer Leverkusen v Benfica
Newcastle v Metalist Kharkiv
Stuttgart v Genk
Atletico Madrid v Rubin Kazan
Ajax v Steaua Bucharest
Basel v Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Anzhi Makhachkala v Hannover
Sparta Prague v Chelsea
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Lazio
Tottenham v Lyon
Napoli v Viktoria Plzen
First-leg matches are played on February 14, and return games on February 21.
Napoli or Viktoria Plzen v BATE Borisov or Fenerbahce
Bayer Leverkusen or Benfica v Dynamo Kiev or Bordeaux
Anzhi Makhachkala or Hannover v Newcastle or Metalist Kharkiv
Stuttgart or Genk v Borussia Moenchengladbach or Lazio
Tottenham or Lyon v Inter Milan or Cluj
Levante or Olympiakos v Atletico Madrid or Rubin Kazan
Basel or Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk v Zenit St. Petersburg or Liverpool
Ajax or Steaua Bucharest v Sparta Prague or Chelsea