A quick look at the teams involved in the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League this season and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a Champions League draw.
While the top tier of European soccer will rightly hog the spotlight in the days to come, the Europa League represents an intriguing sub-plot. And although the reputation of the tournament has been sullied in recent seasons, this trophy has been the catalyst for various sides going on achieve bigger and better things in campaigns to come.
This season, there’s the added incentive of UEFA Champions League soccer for the winners of the tournament too, meaning we should be treated to engrossing matches aplenty, starting with this week’s ties in the last-32 of the competition.
All times Eastern.
Trabzonspor vs Napoli, 1pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Roma vs Feyenoord, 1pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
PSV vs Zenit, 1pm, FOX Soccer 2Go & ESPN Deportes
Aalberg vs Club Brugge, 1pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Young Boys vs Everton, 1pm, FOX Sports 2 & FOX Soccer 2Go
Torino vs Athletic Club, 1pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Wolfsburg vs Sporting, 1pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Dnipro vs Olympiacos, 1pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Anderlecht vs Dinamo Moskva, 3:05pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Liverpool vs Besiktas, 3:05pm, FOX Sports 2, FOX Soccer 2Go & WatchESPN
Tottenham vs Fiorentina, 3:05pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Celtic vs Inter Milan, 3:05pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Guingamp vs Dynamo Kyiv, 3:05pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Villarreal vs Salzburg, 3:05pm, FOX Soccer 2Go, WatchESPN
Ajax vs Legia, 3:05pm, FOX Soccer 2Go
Sevilla vs Monchengladbach, 3:05pm, FOX Soccer 2Go, WatchESPN
Note: Thanks to World Soccer Talk reader CTBlues, it’s important to note that DirecTV subscribers can watch PSV vs Zenit, Torino vs Athletic, and Wolfsburg vs Sporting on the UEFA channels in the 400’s channel range.
Previews of 5 stand-out matches
Here’s a look at 5 of the standout fixtures from the first round of knockout matches:
Sevilla vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach
Having won this particular competition three times in the last nine outings, it’d be fair to say that Sevilla are Europa League experts. Last season they got the better of Benfica in an engrossing final, but they’ll have to be at their very best if they’re to continue their run in this year’s competition when they take on Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Lucien Favre’s team are enjoying a magnificent season in the Bundesliga, sitting in third position in the table. They may not be free-scoring or overly fluent in their offensive forays, but Moenchengladbach are very difficult to beat and opposition that have earned the right to be taken seriously in this tournament.