The past week saw the conclusion of this season’s Europa League last 32. That round saw the likes of Napoli, Celtic, Villarreal, Sporting Braga and more get eliminated from the competition. With sixteen teams left, the round of 16 draw was made and these are the pairings that were made:
- Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
- CSKA Moscow vs. Olympique Lyon
- Borussia Dortmund vs. Salzburg
- AC Milan vs. Arsenal
- Dynamo Kyiv vs. Lazio
- RB Leipzig vs. Zenit
- Olympique Marseille vs. Athletic Club
- Sporting CP vs. Viktoria Plzen
The first leg of these games will be played on the 8th of March, with the return legs set to be played on the 15th of the same month.
How have these teams fared in the competition so far and what are their chances of lifting the trophy in May?
For the teams that came through from the UEFA Champions League, it’s been an eventful one so far. Atletico Madrid breezed FC Copenhagen, beating them home and away. It wasn’t exactly the same story for Napoli and Celtic, both of which were dumped out of the tournament by Leipzig and Zenit respectively.
Borussia Dortmund traded goals with Atalanta but pushed their way through in the end.
For the teams that started the competition from the group stages, names like Lyon, Villarreal, AC Milan, Arsenal have done really well for themselves so far and will be looking to win the trophy.
As we look ahead to the last 16, which stat from the previous round is most likely to determine which club will progress to the quarter finals?
In the Europa League last 32, most of the teams that played the first leg away from home (13 of them) qualified for the round of 16. They were able to do so because they either scored a lot of goals against their opponents on away soil or kept a clean sheet while playing away from home or they did both.
A Lot of First Leg Goals
While teams like CSKA needed the second leg to register their first goals of their fixture, it was a different story with other teams.
AC Milan scored three goals in the first leg of their game against Ludogorets. Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Athletic Club, Sporting CP, Lokomotiv Moscow and Marseille scored three too. Atletico Madrid scored four. All these teams qualified for the last 16.
They finished off their opponents in the first leg with goals that made the second leg of their games easy for them.
It may not be the most coveted trophy in Europe but winning it is a one-way ticket to qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
Which team then, do you think will be desperate enough to win this year’s Europa League? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.