The draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League took place earlier today and what a game it produced, the first meeting between England’s two most successful clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United, in Europe.
First though a quick run down of the ties.
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs Anderlecht
- Basel vs Sevilla
- Villarreal vs Bayer Leverkusen
- Athletic Bilbao vs Valencia
- Liverpool vs Manchester United
- Sparta Prague vs Lazio
- Dortmund vs Tottenham
- Fenerbahce vs Braga
Sevilla, the current holders and most time winners with four, are looking to set another record and become the first club to win the competition three times in a row. This season they are only in the Europa League because they finished third in their UEFA Champions League group behind Manchester City and Juventus.
Two time winners Tottenham face Borussia Dortmund who have never won the Europa League or it’s predecessor the UEFA Cup but could become the fifth member of an illustrious club (joining Ajax, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and most recently Chelsea) who have won all three major UEFA trophies should they go all the way. With Tottenham focusing on winning the Premier League (or at the very least securing a top four finish), you’d think that Dortmund have a great chance of progressing to the quarter-final.
But without a shadow of a doubt the biggest game of the draw is Liverpool vs Manchester United, their first meeting in Europe. despite Klopp’s claim that he was hoping to draw them, this draw has to be a blow to both sides as winning the Europa League looks to be their best chance of entering next season’s Champions League.
This draw has to be a dream for UEFA as it will help to draw attention and increase the popularity of the Europa League in England, something that has always been lacking despite the prize recently being changed to a place in the Champions League.
So who’s excited?