UEFA Europa League: What to watch out for in the round of 16 qualifying


Barcelona’s meeting with Napoli in the Maradona derby is written in big words, but there is a lot to do on top of that.

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Thursday 17th February

6:45 p.m.
Barcelona (ESP) v Napoli (ITA)
Zenit (RUS) v Real Betis (ESP)
Dortmund (GER) v Rangers (SCO)
Sheriff (MDA) vs. Braga (POR)

9:00 p.m. CET
Sevilla (ESP) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Atalante (ITA) v Olympiacos (GRE)
Leipzig (GER) vs Real Sociedad (ESP)
Porto (POR) vs Lazio (ITA)

The return matches take place a week later, on February 24.

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What should you watch out for?

Maradona Derby

See Maradona inspire Napoli to 1989 glory

Barcelona have amassed so much silverware over their 122 years that their trophy cabinet has long since made way for an entire room. But the distinctive UEFA Cup / Europa League award is not part of the treasure. They have lost the semi-finalists four times, but even the last four feel a long way off after being drawn with Serie A top players Napoli, bringing together the top-ranked teams in each starting pot.

Barcelona are still adjusting to life without Lionel Messi, but this tie brings to mind another mercurial Argentine: Diego Armando Maradona. He played for Barca between 1982 and 1984 before moving to Napoli and achieving immortality by winning the UEFA Cup, among others. The return leg will take place in a stadium which now bears his name.

Sérgio Conceição’s connection with Lazio


Porto vs Lazio: flashback to the 2003 semi-final

Porto vs Lazio: flashback to the 2003 semi-final

Sérgio Conceição is also highly regarded at Lazio, where, as a popular winger, he won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and won the double in two seasons at the turn of the century. “It will be an emotional connection for [him]”Says former Porto goalkeeper Vítor Baía.” He is part of the history of this great club. “

Vítor Baía also has fond memories of the Biancocelesti: he was part of the Porto squad that beat them in the semi-finals to win the 2003 UEFA Cup.

Seventh heaven for Seville


The six historic successes of Seville

The six historic successes of Seville

Sevilla’s love affair with the UEFA Europa League would surely be dismissed by any self-respecting Hollywood producer as being too fanciful. A team with just one La Liga title under its belt has reached six finals in 16 seasons, winning them all – twice as many as any other team!

Their relentless determination is summed up by sporting director Monchi: “When we were eliminated [from the Champions League], our thoughts turned to the Europa League while we were still in the locker room. However, Dinamo Zagreb won’t help matters and Sevilla have identified Mislav OrÅ¡ić as the dangerman.

Alternative angles


The contenders for the dams

The contenders for the dams

• Rangers face a Dortmund side including Giovanni Reyna, whose father Claudio played for the Scottish side between 1999 and 2001.

• Loaned Real Sociedad forward Alexander Sørloth will be in familiar surroundings as he returns to Leipzig to face his parent club.

• It’s a season of firsts for Sheriff. They were Moldova’s first representatives in the Champions League group stage and are now breaking new ground for the country by extending their European campaign into the new year.

• An Atalanta team named after a brave huntress from Greek mythology confronts Olympiacos, named after the homeland of the Greek gods. Stick to puns and awkward references, the Achilles heel of any journalist.

• Spanish teams have dominated this competition for the past two decades, securing 11 victories. Sevilla and Barcelona will attract a lot of attention but, as their form at the start of the season has proven, Betis should not be overlooked.

Who is waiting in the last 16?

Crvena zvezda (SRB)
Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Galatasaray (TUR)
Leverkusen (GERMANY)
Lyon (FRA)
Monaco (FRA)
Spartak Moscow (RUS)
West Ham (ENG)

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Key dates


Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán from Seville will host the final

Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán from Seville will host the finalGetty Images

Knockout phase
February 17 & 24: Knockout play-offs
February 25: Draw for the round of 16
March 10 & 17: round of 16
March 18: Draws for the quarter-finals and semi-finals
April 7 & 14: Quarter-finals
April 28 & May 5: Semi-finals
May 18: Final (Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Seville)

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