What’s the story?
UEFA have announced the draw for the Round of 16 fixtures in the Europa League. Manchestester United face a long trip to Russian side FC Rostov. There is also a Bundesliga derby to look forward to, with Schalke and Borussia Monchengladbach facing off, while other big fixtures include Roma competing against Lyon.
Manchester United made it to the Round-of-16 draw of the UEFA Europa League with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Ligue 1’s Saint-Etienne over two legs. They are the only Premier League side left in the competition, as Tottenham Hotspur bowed out to Belgian side Gent with a 2-3 defeat over two legs. The Belgians have three representatives left in the competition, the highest of any league, with Anderlecht and Genk also making it.
Defending champions Sevilla are in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, with La Liga’s hold over the trophy in the hands of Celta Vigo alone, who needed extra time to see off Shakhtar Donetsk with an aggregate score of 2-1, while Athletic Bilbao crashed out to Apoel Nicosia 4-3, and Villarreal were decimated by Roma 4-1 over two legs.
The heart of the matter
Manchester United have never won the UEFA Cup / UEFA Europa League and alongside Roma, are considered the favourites to lift the crown. There are four former champions facing off in the Round of 16 – Ajax, Borussia Monchengladbach, Schalke and RSC Anderlecht have won the Europa League in its previous avatar.
Russian sides Rostov and Krasnodar alongside Genk make up the three newcomers to this stage of the competition. As there were no seedings nor restrictions on facing sides from the same league at this stage, all 16 teams faced off against each other in the draw.
Here is the draw in full:
Celta Vigo vs Krasnodar
Apoel Nicosia vs RSC Anderlecht
Schalke 04 vs Borussia Monchengladbach
Lyon vs AS Roma
FC Rostov vs Manchester United
Olympiakos vs Besiktas
Gent vs Genk
FC Kobenhavn vs AFC Ajax
The two legs of the Round of 16 will take place on March 9th and March 16th, with the exact schedule, regarding kickoff times, to be announced later today. The quarter-finals are scheduled to take place in mid-April, with the semifinals in May. The final of the Europa League will take place at the Friends Arena, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden on the 24th of May.
It will be interesting to see how Manchester United fare, especially after Jose Mourinho hoped that he would not have to travel too long. A trip to Russia, given United’s packed schedule, is not ideal and it is far from certain whether Manchester United will go through, as Rostov showed plenty of quality with a win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League earlier.
Manchester United travel to Russia on 9th March, take on Chelsea in the FA Cup on March 13th, before the return leg at Old Trafford on March 16th.Published 24 Feb 2017, 17:33 IST