The UEFA Europa League, notorious for its hectic schedule, continues this week, with the competition now left with just 16 teams. Starting Thursday, these 16 teams will battle for the Europa League trophy and by implication, an automatic qualification for next year’s UEFA Champions League.
As we anticipate all the drama on and off the pitch, we’re also asking a couple of questions, like:
In which of these games will both teams score?
The round before this one had almost every game – save one – feature at least one goal. There were also a handful of games that had both teams score in them. As the competition gets tougher, teams will get even more tactical and will try to make life difficult for their opponents.
Some may sit in deep while some others may try to outscore their opponents. This round will feature 8 games.
Home advantage or away wins?
Being the first leg, teams will be conscious of trying to get the best results possible to make light work of the second leg. And there are many ways they can go about this.
They can make use of their best players, take advantage of the 12th man, their home crowd and get that all important 1st leg win. Teams can also decide to take advantage of mistakes made by opponents, capitalize on it and win games, regardless of whether they’re playing at home or not.
Is it time for the Russians?
Looking at the teams that made it this far in the competition, it doesn’t go without saying that Russia is the most represented country, with three clubs from that part of the world still very much in the competition, CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, Zenit St. Petersburg.
There are two Italian clubs, two German clubs, two from Spain, two from France and just one from the likes of England, Portugal, Austria, Ukraine and Czech Republic. It’s no guarantee but…
Which players will score?
Seven of the top ten players on the scorers sheet of the competition are still very much in the competition.
Adrian Aduriz of Athletic Bilbao leads the way with seven goals. A. Silva of AC Milan, Moraes of Dynamo Kyiv, Kokorin and Rigoni of Zenit, and Fernandes of Lokomotiv Moscow have all scored six goals so far in the competition this year.
Let’s end today’s blog post by asking you this: After losing three games on the bounce (twice against Manchester City and against Brighton), do you think Arsenal can defeat an AC Milan side that has remained undefeated in 20 of their last 21 Europa League games?
Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.