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UEFA Europa League Last 16 – Who Will Reach The Quarterfinals?

13 Mar 2024
Nikhil Kalro 13 Mar 2024
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  • The UEFA Europa League's first round of knockouts concludes this week.
  • Teams like AC Milan, Marseille, and Bayer Leverkusen are likely to advance based on their first-leg performances.
  • German league leaders Bayer Leverkusen face a tough fixture against Qarabag FK.
AC Milan
AC Milan players celebrate a goal against Slavia Praha at San Siro. (Getty Images)
Enthralling football matches will delight all fans of the sport this midweek as the UEFA Europa League’s first round of knockouts concludes.
  • Slavia Prague vs AC Milan
  • Villarreal vs Marseille
  • Rangers vs Benfica
  • West Ham United vs FC Freiburg
  • Atalanta vs Sporting
  • Brighton vs AS Roma
  • Leverkusen vs Qarabag FK
  • Liverpool vs Sparta Prague

Eight of the sixteen teams will book a berth in the prestigious competition’s quarterfinals in a bid to taste European glory. English giants Liverpool are in prime position to advance to the next round in comfortable fashion, and so are French side Marseille despite struggling in their domestic league.

German table toppers Bayer Leverkusen have their work cut out for them as they were held to a 2-2 draw in the first leg by Qarabag FK. Current UEFA Conference Cup holders AS Roma will travel to England to face off against Brighton with a cushion of four goals.

In the end, it all comes down to the 90 minutes on the pitch, where any shocking upsets are possible. Let’s analyse all the Round of 16 second-leg fixtures to see who the money is on to advance.

Slavia Prague vs AC Milan

The home side trail by two goals as they prepare to welcome the Italian giants Milan, who won the first leg 4-2, to the Fortuna Arena on Thursday. Slavia Prague’s confidence will be boosted by their 4-0 victory against Teplice over the weekend. Milan also enter the tie with three consecutive wins. The oddsmaker’s money will be on Milan cementing their position in the Europa League quarterfinals with another victory in the upcoming second leg.

Pick: AC Milan

Villarreal vs Marseille

The footballing world was left stunned by the one-sided 4-0 thumping Marseille handed to the Spanish side in the first leg. There will be no takers for the Spanish side to come out on top in this tie in the second leg after that result. The bookies are firmly in favour of the French club to cruise into the last eight of the competition. Marseille placed seventh in France and are on a five-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Villarreal’s chance of a European spot next season seems a far-fetched dream.

Pick: Marseille

Rangers vs Benfica

The first leg of this tie ended in a stalemate, and so have the last three meetings between these clubs. Rangers top the Scottish Premiership table, while Benfica are only second to Sporting in Liga Portugal. A closely contested tie is guaranteed in the second leg. Rangers have won three of their last five, while Benfica have won two. The odds are tilted in favour of the home side to win this leg and advance further.

Pick: Rangers

West Ham United vs FC Freiburg

German side Freiburg head to England with a one-goal advantage and a long list of injuries. West Ham, though a goal down, hold the home-ground advantage and the English supporters’ backing. Though David Moyes’ side have won just two of their last five games, they definitely have more options in the squad and look the stronger side to overturn the one-goal deficit on Thursday.

Pick: West Ham United

Atalanta vs Sporting

It’s all to play for in this tie as Sporting travel to Atalanta with a 1-1 draw in the first leg. The home side will look to change their fortunes by securing a victory, as they haven’t done so in their last five outings. Sporting look to be the favourites to make it through to the quarters as they haven’t lost in their last five games, with three wins and two draws. The bookmaker’s money will be on Sporting, who are looking to taste European glory for the first time since 1964.

Pick: Sporting

Brighton vs AS Roma

English side Brighton have just one win in their last five attempts and a four-goal deficit, which seems impossible to overturn to advance to the quarterfinals. However, they haven’t lost a single home game in their last 13. Therefore, even though their European campaign may come to an end on Thursday, they are unlikely to lose again in the second leg. Roma meanwhile, may rest a few key players with a clash against Sassuolo in Serie A upcoming in just two days. Therefore, the bookmakers predict a draw or a win for Brighton but AS Roma to advance.

Pick: Brighton

Leverkusen vs Qarabag FK

The most anticipated encounter of this round, as the Azerbaijan league leaders held the Bundesliga leaders to an impressive 2-2 draw in the first leg. However, this time around, the Germans have the home-ground advantage and will have learned from their mistakes from the reverse fixtures. The odds are in favour of Leverkusen, who are the stronger team on paper, despite both teams being unbeaten in their last five matches. The German side is one of the favourites to lift the trophy this year, their first since the 1987-88 season. The money is on Leverkusen to shake off the previous draw and come out in full force to advance to the quarterfinals.

Pick: Bayer Leverkusen

Liverpool vs Sparta Prague

Jurgen Klopp’s side enjoyed a 5-1 rout of Sparta Prague when they visited the Czech Republic last month, resulting in a four-goal advantage for the second leg. Liverpool have a high-intensity FA Cup quarterfinal clash against bitter rivals Manchester United coming up over the weekend and are likely to rest all key players for this second-leg tie. Prague will try their best to overcome the four-goal deficit, but the likelihood of that is improbable. However, a B-team fielded by Klopp could give the visitors a narrow victory over the English giants. The bookies predict a soft Liverpool team to face a narrow defeat, but still make it to the quarterfinals.

Pick: Sparta Prague

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