UEFA Europa Conference League: What to look out for in the round of 16 second legs
Thursday, March 17, 2022
Will Norway's shock contenders survive? Will the Dutch quartet sail through? Can Basel make Marseille pay for their profligacy?
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Bodø/Glimt are doing it for the romantics, PSV have "lessons to learn" and Marseille are hoping first-leg misses will not come back to haunt them in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car presents UEFA.com's guide to the round of 16 second legs.
Round of 16 second legs: 17 March
Basel vs Marseille (first leg: 1-2)
Rennes vs Leicester (0-2)
Copenhagen vs PSV Eindhoven (4-4)
AZ Alkmaar vs Bodø/Glimt (1-2)
Gent vs PAOK (0-1)
Roma vs Vitesse (1-0)
LASK vs Slavia Praha (1-4)
Feyenoord vs Partizan (5-2)
Can Bodø/Glimt keep the romance alive?
The UEFA Europa Conference League was designed to give more opportunities to teams outside the big five leagues, and no side has captured the spirit quite like Bodø/Glimt. The Norwegian champions are the lowest-ranked club left in the competition (114th in the UEFA coefficient rankings) but still very much alive as they head to AZ Alkmaar defending a 2-1 lead, despite the fact that their domestic season does not begin in earnest until April.
After converting a late penalty at home, Ola Solbakken is now joint top scorer in the competition with six goals, alongside Roma's Tammy Abraham, and Bodø/Glimt can take courage from some fine away results this season – not least a 3-1 win at Celtic in the last round. Coach Kjetil Knutsen was quietly pleased about the first leg against AZ: "We met a top team from the Netherlands and once more we got a win when we didn't play at our best, and that's an extremely good sign."
Dutch quartet on the quarter-final trail
The Netherlands has the biggest Europa Conference League contingent in the round of 16, with Vitesse and AZ Alkmaar joining continental heavyweights Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven in the chase for their nation's first major UEFA club honour since the Rotterdam side beat Dortmund 3-2 in the 2002 UEFA Cup final.
Feyenoord look the most likely to progress after their 5-2 first-leg win at Partizan, while AZ may fancy their chances of overturning a one-goal deficit against Bodø/Glimt. Vitesse have a task on their hand to retrieve a similar deficit at Roma, while PSV will look to put a hectic 4-4 draw behind them as they head to Copenhagen. "Some lessons have to be learned," said coach Roger Schmidt. "We need to change our attitude and stay focused. We will be out of the tournament unless we show sharpness and desire."
No away goals rule
The so-called away goals rule has been removed from all UEFA club competitions as of this season. 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.
Marseille's mission in Basel
Arkadiusz Milik struck twice in Marseille's 2-1 home win against Basel, but joy was not exactly unconfined as the 1992/93 Champions League winners missed a host of chances to extinguish any suspense in the tie – and then conceded a late goal. "The fly in the ointment is that we should have ended with a bigger winning margin to be calmer going into the second leg," said goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Basel know that they rode their luck in the first leg. Fabian Frei said he would have taken a 2-1 defeat going into the game, and it certainly looks like a very healthy scoreline as they focus on the second game, the team captain adding: "It'll be important for us to be patient and above all not to concede a goal, but we can score in front of our fans."
When is the Europa Conference League quarter-final draw?
The 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League quarter-final and semi-final draws take place from 15:00 CET on Friday 18 March at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland. The live stream will appear here.
18 March: Quarter-final & semi-final draws
7 & 14 April: Quarter-finals
28 April & 5 May: Semi-finals
25 May: Final (National Arena, Tirana)