The clash of former UEFA Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur FC and FC Internazionale Milano is one of only two UEFA Europa League round of 16 ties involving teams who have met before.
Tottenham and Inter's sole previous encounter came in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage, Gareth Bale inspiring the north London side to a 3-1 home win a fortnight after scoring a hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat at San Siro. The Nerazzurri are therefore sure to be especially wary of Spurs' Welsh international forward, who goes into next Thursday's White Hart Lane first leg in devastating form, with ten goals in his last eight appearances.
Though Tottenham and Inter are two of the three UEFA Cup winners still in the competition, there is sure to be a new name on the UEFA Europa League trophy come May. Spurs manager André Villas-Boas, however, is looking to win the tournament for the second time having guided FC Porto to glory in 2011.
Meanwhile, UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea FC, Villas-Boas's former employers, aim to join elite company of their own. The Blues come up against FC Steaua Bucureşti as they seek to edge ever closer to completing the full set of European Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League. FC Bayern München, AFC Ajax and Juventus are the only other teams to have won all three.
Still taking baby steps on the continent are Levante UD, who have advanced from the play-offs in their first season of European competition. Next up for the Spanish side are FC Rubin Kazan, who dispatched holders Club Atlético de Madrid in the round of 32.
Along with Steaua, Chelsea and Inter, SL Benfica are one of four former European Champion Clubs' Cup winners in contention. The Eagles now take on FC Girondins de Bordeaux, who were 2-1 aggregate victors when the teams played in the 1986/87 European Cup Winners' Cup second round.
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