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Italian tussle and Seville derby top Europa bill

Published: Monday 10 March 2014, 9.00CET
A replay of the all-Italian 1990 UEFA Cup final, and the first-ever Seville derby in Europe, are the standout ties as the UEFA Europa League round of 16 kicks off on Thursday.
Italian tussle and Seville derby top Europa bill
Juventus host Fiorentina in their round of 16 first leg ©Getty Images
 
 
Published: Monday 10 March 2014, 9.00CET

Italian tussle and Seville derby top Europa bill

A replay of the all-Italian 1990 UEFA Cup final, and the first-ever Seville derby in Europe, are the standout ties as the UEFA Europa League round of 16 kicks off on Thursday.

A Seville derby and a potential all-Italian classic top the bill as the UEFA Europa League round of 16 gets under way.

Juventus welcome ACF Fiorentina to the stadium that stages this season's final for the first leg of their last-16 tie, with Antonio Conte's men flying high at the head of Serie A. The Bianconeri, who overcame the Viola 3-1 on aggregate in the 1990 UEFA Cup final, sit three places and 27 points clear of Thursday's visitors after a 1-0 win against them on Sundaythough Fiorentina did beat Juve 4-2 in Florence in October.

Sevilla FC's hosting of Real Betis Balompié is another major source of intrigue with the city rivals drawn together in UEFA competition for the first time. With Betis five points adrift at the foot of the Spanish Liga, many will expect two-time tournament winners Sevilla to progress, especially since they thrashed their neighbours 4-0 at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in November. However, a 2-0 victory at FC Rubin Kazan in the round of 32 has given hope to the Verdiblancos.

FC Porto, who parted ways with coach Paulo Fonseca on Wednesday, must regroup for the arrival of SSC Napoli as the sides, who both transferred from the UEFA Champions League, meet for the first time since 1974. Another club who joined the competition at the round of 32 stage, FC Basel 1893, face the competition's form team in FC Salzburg, fresh from a notable 6-1 aggregate success over AFC Ajax. The campaign's seven-goal top scorer Jonatan Soriano is sure to be a handful at St. Jakob-Park.

Having lifted the trophy twice in the past, Tottenham Hotspur FC will aim to keep alive dreams of a third triumph but must negotiate last season's runners-up SL Benfica. Statistics favour Tim Sherwood's troops; Spurs have won all five of their home games against Portuguese opposition.

PFC Ludogorets Razgrad have made a lot of friends in the course of their unlikely run to the last 16, but the side that eliminated SS Lazio take on their toughest task yet, with 2003/04 UEFA Cup champions Valencia CF unbeaten since matchday one as they come to Bulgaria.

Bottom in Russia, FC Anji Makhachkala will hope their improved fortunes on the continent continue as they make the trip to AZ Alkmaar while FC Viktoria Plzeň, fallers at this fence last term, travel to Olympique Lyonnais.

Last updated: 30/04/14 23.03CET

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