It became written that for the primary season of these remodeled Europa League knockout rounds — there’s now a playoff spherical between groups that completed third in their Champions League groups and teams that finished 2d of their Europa League agencies — there would be a large tie. And the draw did not disappoint!
Barcelona and Manchester United, ecu giants chasing a way again to the top, will face each other for a place inside the ultimate 16. It method that one of the managers, Erik ten Hag and Xavi, will be out of Europe very early, as a way to be any other embarrassment and some other aspect for the membership to deal with.
On paper, Barcelona are slightly beforehand of their development and manner, but United can also beat them. It will likely be a tactical battle, too; beyond it marking Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to the Camp Nou — as well as for Raphael Varane and Casemiro — it is going to be the Frenkie De Jong derby. It could be Sergio Busquets’ last-ever eu movement, too, which amounts to a potentially charming tie.
As Xavi put it on Monday, “The draw has given us the maximum difficult opponent once again, however we can look ahead to it and we will compete … It’s the worst draw we ought to have were given. Over again. Now and again it’s a plus to play against the first-rate facets. Maybe it will deliver the pleasant out people here and at old Trafford. It is a undertaking.”
The relaxation is not as alluring by using contrast, even though there are nonetheless a few compelling matchups. Three specially have the feel of Champions League ties:
- Bayer Leverkusen vs. Monaco, or the Kevin Volland derby given he spent four seasons scoring goals in the Bundesliga earlier than joining the Ligue 1 membership in 2020. Monaco and Philippe Clement are hitting form and could desire to nonetheless be in pinnacle form in February which will supply Xabi Alonso’s aspect a hard check.
Alonso, a legend as a player and now playing his first senior coaching process, nevertheless lacks enjoy and has to examine fast. If no longer, the crew from the principality may want to show too elaborate to conquer. Wissam Ben Yedder (9 goals) and Breel Embolo lead from the front for Monaco, even as Alex Nubel has played each minute among the posts.
Sevilla vs. PSV Eindhoven is going to be outstanding, too. Jorge Sampaoli is attempting to restore Sevilla’s season, however he has but to find the proper system. However, the Europa League is their opposition, having received four of the past 10 editions.
While Sevilla are struggling, PSV are flying. They beat Arsenal inside the organization degree although they nevertheless completed second in the back of the Gunners ultimately. Ruud Van Nistelrooy is constructing a young team with great capacity and if Cody Gakpo remains of their squad by the point the first leg rolls round, they may be my favourites to qualify.
RB Salzburg vs. Roma is absolutely the tale of managers, the apprentice against the grasp: Mathias Jassle vs. José Mourinho. At 34, Jaissle has a splendid future ahead of him and his younger Salzburg group matched up well with Chelsea and Milan of their Champions League organization, drawing against both. At 59, Mourinho wants to add the Europa League to his trophy cupboard after prevailing the Europa conference League remaining season, however he’s going to must rally the Giallorossi to their satisfactory shape given inconsistent performances in Serie A to date this campaign.
In any other case, Juventus have been arguably the luckiest aspect in the draw, with Nantes coming their manner. The French Cup winners last season are very a whole lot the various minnows left inside the competition and they wanted the largest opponent possible — recall that want granted! The gamers celebrated after they drew Juve, and they will have nothing to lose. For the vintage woman, the biggest stress is they in reality can’t manage to pay for to lose, as it might be a proper humiliation if they did.
Ajax vs. Union Berlin is the conflict of extremes, putting opposing styles head-to-head in an interesting conflict. The Dutch facet may have plenty of the ball, with the Bundesliga aspect all too satisfied to play on the counter. Ajax are favourites, undoubtedly, but Union preserve defying the chances. Some place else, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Rennes can be an attacking affair, though I agree with the French aspect are the better crew here. Subsequently, wearing will go into their games against Midtjylland as the favourites too.