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Round of 16 ready to kick off

Published: Monday 5 March 2012, 10.58CET
The UEFA Europa League round of 16 kicks off on Thursday with Manchester United FC targeting the one major trophy missing from their cabinet. UEFA.com picks through the eight ties.
Round of 16 ready to kick off
Sir Alex Ferguson watches United training ©Getty Images
 
 
Published: Monday 5 March 2012, 10.58CET

Round of 16 ready to kick off

The UEFA Europa League round of 16 kicks off on Thursday with Manchester United FC targeting the one major trophy missing from their cabinet. UEFA.com picks through the eight ties.

Sides from ten different countries will look to build up steam towards a place in the 9 May UEFA Europa League final in Bucharest as the round of 16 kicks off on Thursday.

Sporting Clube de Portugal v Manchester City FC
Manchester City must be wary as they visit the club who inflicted a European record 5-0 defeat on their Old Trafford rivals Manchester United FC in the 1963/64 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals. Sporting are unbeaten in nine European home games – eight wins and a draw – since a 2-0 loss to Brøndby IF in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League play-offs.

FC Twente v FC Schalke 04
Steve McClaren's Twente beat Fred Rutten's Schalke 2-1 in the teams' only previous meeting in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage, and the Tukkers' Nacer Chadli is looking forward to renewing acquaintances. "Schalke are a big team in Germany but we are a big team in the Netherlands."

Club Atlético de Madrid v Beşiktaş JK
Last season's UEFA Europa League top scorer with a record 17 goals for winners FC Porto, Atlético's Falcao has notched five this term and sits within two of the head of the leaderboard. This game brings together plenty of former team-mates and will be special for Arda Turan, who joined the Spanish outfit from Beşiktaş's Istanbul rivals Galatasaray AŞ last summer.

FC Metalist Kharkiv v Olympiacos FC
Metalist are the most prolific side in the UEFA Europa League with 23 goals in eight games since the start of the group stage – four more than the next highest marksmen, PSV Eindhoven. Olympiacos, though, are on a five-match winning streak in Europe, during which they have won four games 1-0 and conceded just once.

Manchester United FC v Athletic Club
The clubs' only previous encounter came more than 50 years ago, United losing 5-3 in Bilbao but winning the tie with a 3-0 victory in Manchester. Should the Red Devils win the UEFA Europa League they will be only the fourth team to have taken all three of UEFA's major club trophies, joining Juventus, AFC Ajax and FC Bayern München.

R. Standard de Liège v Hannover 96
These sides come together for the third time this season, having already been paired in the group stage. Standard goalkeeper Sinan Bolat said: "We know them pretty well now. It will not be easy." Hannover boss Mirko Slomka added: "We know how tough our next opponents are, but we have a chance. We have to learn from the group matches."

Valencia CF v PSV Eindhoven
Valencia beat PSV 2-0 in a pre-season friendly in Austria, and midfielder Kevin Strootman reflected: "I don't think we are the favourites. In fact, I know that for sure." Coach Fred Rutten is excited, though. "They are a team that wants to play football and we like to play football as well. That could make for a very interesting tie."

AZ Alkmaar v Udinese Calcio
AZ are on a nine-match unbeaten run in Europe – four wins and five draws – yet are up against an Udinese outfit still buzzing from a 3-0 round of 32 victory at PAOK FC. Defender Maurizio Domizzi said: "We're not concerned about our opponents, what matters is our game. With performances like the one in Salonika, we have a decent chance of going further."

Last updated: 05/03/12 19.41CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/news/newsid=1762984.html#round+ready+kick

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