With the UEFA Europa League round of 16 offering a slew of intriguing ties, UEFA.com rounds up ten key facts, shining a light on a field of clubs drawn from far and wide who are largely entering uncharted territory.
1. The round of 16 participants come from 11 countries, with representation split as follows:
3 clubs – England, Russia
2 clubs – Italy
1 club – Czech Republic, France, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey
2. Of the eight clubs that transferred to the competition after the UEFA Champions League group stage, only three survive: Chelsea FC, SL Benfica and FC Zenit St Petersburg.
3. Just three remaining teams have graced the UEFA Europa League round of 16 before: Zenit (reached the 2010/11 round of 16), Benfica (2010/11 semi-finals, 2009/10 quarter-finals) and FC Rubin Kazan (2009/10 round of 16).
4. UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea are among four previous winners of the European Cup, along with Benfica, FC Internazionale Milano and FC Steaua Bucureşti.
5. Three other sides in the last 16 have won a past UEFA club competition: Zenit, S.S. Lazio and Tottenham Hotspur FC. Newcastle United FC lifted the non-UEFA-backed Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
6. There are two domestic reigning champions in the round of 16: Zenit (Russia) and FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland). One is guaranteed to make the quarter-finals as the pair now meet.
7. Including qualifying and play-off fixtures, the clubs who have required the most games to get to the last 16 this season are Basel, FC Anji Makhachkala and FC Viktoria Plzeň, each with 14. Anji and Plzeň are the UEFA Europa League's longest survivors this term, having entered the second qualifying round. Basel began their European adventure at the equivalent stage of the UEFA Champions League.
8. Rubin and Steaua are the only current participants that have appeared in all four editions of the UEFA Europa League.
9. Tottenham's André Villas-Boas is bidding to become the first coach to win the UEFA Europa League twice, having captured it with FC Porto in 2010/11. Chelsea's Rafael Benítez landed the UEFA Cup with Valencia CF in 2004.
10. Only two coaches involved in the last 16 have lifted the European Cup – Anji's Guus Hiddink, a winner with PSV Eindhoven in 1988, and Benítez with Liverpool FC in 2005. Additionally, Villas-Boas was the Chelsea boss for part of their triumphant 2011/12 UEFA Champions League campaign before being replaced by Roberto Di Matteo.
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