UEFA Europa Conference League: What to look out for in the round of 16
Friday, February 25, 2022
Will the Dutch go forth and prosper? Can Rennes go one better? Will Roma justify their tag of "favourites"?
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You can almost make out the red and grey livery of Tirana's National Arena, venue for the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League final, as we move into the round of 16. Will the Dutch go forth and prosper? Can Rennes go one better? Will Roma justify their tag of "favourites"?
Enterprise Rent-A-Car presents UEFA.com's guide to the stand-out stories.
Round of 16 ties
PAOK (GRE) vs Gent (BEL)
Vitesse (NED) vs Roma (ITA)
Slavia Praha (CZE) vs LASK (AUT)
Partizan (SRB) vs Feyenoord (NED)
Marseille (FRA) vs Basel (SUI)
Leicester (ENG) vs Rennes (FRA)
PSV Eindhoven (NED) vs Copenhagen (DEN)
Bodø/Glimt (NOR) vs AZ Alkmaar (NED)
First legs take place on 10 March, with the second legs a week later.
It is 20 years since the Netherlands' last major European title, Pierre van Hooijdonk inspiring Feyenoord to UEFA Cup success at home in Rotterdam. Eredivisie clubs have come close since, most notably Ajax reaching the 2017 UEFA Europa League final, but they have not quite managed to get it over the line – could the wait soon be over? There is certainly strength in numbers, with Feyenoord among four Dutch sides lining up in the Europa Conference League last 16 alongside PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar and Vitesse.
Most European Cup/UEFA Cup/Europa League titles
England again for Rennes
Rennes have never advanced beyond the last 16 in major European competition but the Breton outfit have quietly established themselves as a continental force over the past four seasons. They have met four English opponents in that time, and Leicester will well know they may not have things all their own way. Rennes drew 2-2 with Tottenham in this season's group stage and gave Arsenal a major fright when they beat them 3-1 in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie in 2019. It took a stirring comeback to deny the Ligue 1 side.
No away goals rule
The so-called away goals rule has been ruled from all UEFA club competitions as of this season. That means that ties in which the two teams score the same number of goals over the two legs are no longer decided on the number of goals scored away but by two 15-minute periods of extra time and, if necessary, a penalty shoot-out.
"It's the toughest imaginable, but also the most beautiful," Vitesse coach Thomas Letsch said after being paired with Roma. "They're perhaps favourites to win the entire competition." Some 91 places separate the sides in the UEFA rankings but Roma boss José Mourinho knows better than to take opponents lightly in this competition: Bodø/Glimt are ranked even lower and they stunned the Giallorossi 6-1 in the group stage. So, hard to predict but goals are almost guaranteed, and only Bodø/Glimt have scored more in this tournament.
10 & 17 March: Round of 16
18 March: Quarter-final & semi-final draws
7 & 14 April: Quarter-finals
28 April & 5 May: Semi-finals
25 May: Final (National Arena, Tirana)