Just like the in the UEFA Champions League, action continues this week in the UEFA Europa League.
Although second in ranking to the UCL, the Europa League boasts some of the best teams in Europe and is arguably one of the most stressful tournaments to play in.
For the 16 teams that remain in the competition so far, it’s been a long ride.
Some progressed from the group stage, while others qualified for the knockout stages via the Champions League. Either ways, they all have a common goal now: The Europa League final in May is where they’ll want to be.
Another thing they have in common is this: For most of these sides, this is their only chance of winning a trophy this season. Most of them have been knocked out of their respective cup competitions and are also out of the running for their local league titles.
This leaves us with 16 teams, all contesting for the chance to finish the season with at least a trophy. But which one is the favorite to go all the way?
Which of these teams will win these first leg games?
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It’s easy to point out the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Napoli and Inter Milan, while also throwing in Benfica into the mix. These teams have players with plenty of European experience. These teams are also household names when it comes to featuring on the big stage in Europe.
However, of all these teams, there’s one with a major history of winning this particular competition. Sevilla hold the record for the most victories in this tournament having won it five times. The Spanish outfit is also the second side to win the trophy back-to-back – they won it in 2014, 2015, 2016.
But the last time Sevilla won the Europa League was in 2016. The past two years, their hold on the tournament has been broken by Manchester United and Atletico Madrid. And the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal will want to keep things that way.
That first leg was an away game.
In the Round of 16, they play the first leg away from, again.
Will it be yet another loss for Arsenal?
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But Arsenal has to deal with a Rennes side that has remained undefeated in 12 straight home games. Chelsea also has to find a way past a side that has kept two clean sheets in three European outings.
Of course, other sides, especially those from Europe’s top five leagues, will also try to stake their claims for the trophy as it progresses.
With these teams being strong contenders to win the trophy, which of them do you think will go all the way? Which of these teams will start the Round of 16 strongly and go all the way?
Leave us your comments and share your thoughts with us.