Europa League round of 16: what to get excited about!

07.03.2019 06:39

The UEFA Europa League round of 16 line-up is packed with pedigree talent; who will stay in the hunt to lift the heaviest of the UEFA club competition trophies?

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Round of 16, first legs

Seven sides involved are former UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League winners; Chelsea (2013), Frankfurt (1980), Internazionale (1991, 1994, 1998), Napoli (1989), Sevilla (2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016), Valencia (2004) and Zenit (2008). However, with Frankfurt meeting Inter, no more than six can reach the last eight.

Back in Europe after a five-year absence, Frankfurt are the top scorers so far, thanks in part to six-goal Luka Jović, who has been something of  a revelation. They have their work cut out against Inter, one of four sides left from the eight that transferred from the UEFA Champions League group stage, along with Benfica, Napoli and Valencia.

Two domestic champions have made it to the round of 16: Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) and Salzburg (Austria). The last team to win a UEFA Europa League and domestic league double was Porto in 2010/11.

Chelsea's Olivier Giroud may be one to watch; the Frenchman has scored in his last five UEFA Europa League games, and will be looking to maintain that flow against Dynamo Kyiv – who lost 2-1 on their last trip to Stamford Bridge in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League.

Four sides who featured at this stage last season are in contention: Arsenal, Dynamo Kyiv, Salzburg and Zenit. The Gunners and Salzburg both bowed out in the semi-finals last time around. The Austrian side's Munas Dabbur is the top scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League with seven goals.

Arsenal custodian Petr Čech is up against Rennes, the side he represented from 2002–04, before moving to England. Set to retire at the end of the season, the Czech watched former Sevilla No1 Andrés Palop make the draw, and tweeted: "When a goalkeeper makes the draw good things happen!"
Thursday
18:55CET
Dinamo Zagreb v Benfica
Frankfurt v Internazionale
Rennes v Arsenal
Sevilla v Slavia Praha
Zenit v Villarreal

21:00CET

Chelsea v Dynamo Kyiv
Napoli v Salzburg
Valencia v Krasnodar

Quarter-final and semi-final draws, 15 March