Now that it’s been whittled to 32 teams, and with me making an effort to learn more about those unfancied teams, I have more reason to pay attention to the Europa League. While I’m not yet ready to pick a winner, I will have my eye on the following matchups:
Archive for the ‘knockout stages’ Category
Thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?
But no. This season, I’ve resolved to give the Europa League its due. With that, here’s the round of 32 draw
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) v Tottenham Hotspur FC (ENG)
Real Betis Balompié (ESP) v FC Rubin Kazan (RUS)
Swansea City AFC (ENG) v SSC Napoli (ITA)
Juventus (ITA) v Trabzonspor AŞ (TUR)
NK Maribor (SVN) v Sevilla FC (ESP)
FC Viktoria Plzeň (CZE) v FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
FC Chornomorets Odesa (UKR) v Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)
SS Lazio (ITA) v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)
Esbjerg fB (DEN) v ACF Fiorentina (ITA)
AFC Ajax (NED) v FC Salzburg (AUT)
Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (ISR) v FC Basel 1893 (SUI)
FC Porto (POR) v Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
FC Anji Makhachkala (RUS) v KRC Genk (BEL)
FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) v Valencia CF (ESP)
PAOK FC (GRE) v SL Benfica (POR)
FC Slovan Liberec (CZE) v AZ Alkmaar (NED)
Now, admittedly, I don’t know my Maribor from my Makhachkala, but I’m hoping to change all that in the next couple of months. Yup – I’m going to attempt to educate myself about all the unfancied teams making their way through the Europa League. We’ll see how that goes.
I may have mentioned that my prediction skills are terrible. But hey – at least I got Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich right!
My quick thoughts on what the balls threw up in Nyon (wait, that sounds bad. Oh well).
Manchester City vs. FC Barcelona: Well, some say City’s owners have been trying to recreate Barcelona in Manchester, so I guess this will be the true test of how far along they are in that (wait for it) project.
Olympiacos vs Manchester United: Given the way United have performed this season, Olympiacos will think they have a chance. They will be wrong.
AC Milan vs. Atlético de Madrid: Atletico have been so good this season (see how they ran away with Group G?), but this Milan team – shoddy though it is – will put up a fight.
Bayer 04 Leverkeusen vs. Paris Saint-Germain: One of the more intriguing and hard to call ties of this round. Technically, PSG should easily get past Bayer. But then, technically, Bayer shouldn’t even be in this round given how poorly they performed in their group.
Galatasaray AŞ vs. Chelsea FC: The reunion of Mou and King Didier.
FC Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid: Like Bayer 04, Schalke shouldn’t even be in this round, and I don’t know if they’ll have enough to threaten this star-studded Madrid side.
FC Zenit vs. Borussia Dortmund: I appreciate that Zenit midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk has already started the trash talking months in advance of this tie. But Zenit had better enjoy being in the knockout stages while it lasts – cuz it won’t last long.
Arsenal FC vs. FC Bayern Munchen: My lone correct prediction. Hard to say how this one will play out. Bayern is the stronger, deeper team, but they just had their first loss of this season’s Champions League to Manchester City last week. And it was Arsenal who inflicted one of Bayern’s two CL losses last season (albeit past the point when it mattered). Another one that’s tough to call.