What to look out for in the UEFA Europa League round of 16. Sporting CP looks to defend a stellar record, Manchester United return to Spain, and Sevilla versus Fenerbahçe brings back fond memories.
As the UEFA Europa League continues its journey to Budapest, returning teams include Arsenal, Fenerbahçe, and Real Betis. The group winners return to the fray in the round of 16, where they begin their knockout campaigns against the winners of the first eight knockout round playoffs.
Before the round of 16, we highlight some important talking points in this article from Enterprise.
Round of 16 matchups: March 9 and 16
Union Saint-Gilloise vs. Union Berlin
Ferencváros vs. Leverkusen
Arsenal vs. Sporting CP
Real Sociedad vs. Roma
Fenerbahçe vs. Sevilla
Freiburg vs. Juventus
Betis versus Man United, Shakhtar versus Feyenoord
United completes the hat trick in Spain.
What to look out for in the UEFA Europa League round of 16
In this season’s competition, Manchester United will face a third different Spanish opponent, continuing a familiar trend. Erik ten Hag’s team finished second in their group behind Real Sociedad. Real Sociedad avenged a loss on Matchday 1 by winning the away match, and Barcelona was defeated in a nail-biting play-off to go to the next stage.
In addition, they had previously faced Betis this season, with Nabil Fekir’s goal giving the Red Devils a 1-0 loss before the midseason break. After the draw, Ten Hag commented, “You know what you get with Spanish football. “We must play at our highest level since they are a ball-playing, skilled team. We are aware that the only way to survive and advance to the next round is to play your best.”
Sporting CP has historically beaten Arsenal.
The record of Sporting CP against English rivals is nothing short of amazing. Before Manchester City broke their streak in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 of last season, they had won all eight of their two-legged UEFA competition knockout matches against English teams. Mikel Arteta’s team will face a challenging test against a club that can thrive in the win-or-bust stages of European competition.
The Lions made up for that lone elimination by defeating Tottenham by four points in the Champions League group stage this year, and they now have their sights set on making amends with the other team from north London, the Gunners, who defeated Sporting CP 1-0 on the road and drew 0-0 at home in the 2018/19 Europa League group stage.