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Europa Conference League round of 16 first legs: Game-by-game preview

Get the lowdown on the remaining seven first-leg matches in the 2022/23 UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16.

Gent pair Gift Orban and Jens Petter Hauge training ahead of the visit of İstanbul Başakşehir
Gent pair Gift Orban and Jens Petter Hauge training ahead of the visit of İstanbul Başakşehir BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

AZ pulled off a surprise 2-1 win at Lazio as the UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 got under way on Tuesday, with the remaining seven first legs coming up on Thursday as the likes of West Ham, Villarreal and Nice return to the fray. Get the lowdown on every game.

What is the round of 16?

The round pits the eight group winners from the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage against the eight sides that made it through the knockout round play-offs.

Ties are played over two legs and conclude on Thursday 16 March; the away goals rule has been abolished. The eight winners advance to the quarter-final draw on Friday 17 March; the eight losers will no longer be involved in 2022/23 European competition.

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Tuesday 7 March

Lazio 1-2 AZ Alkmaar

Thursday 9 March

AEK Larnaca vs West Ham

Five-time runners-up in the Cypriot top division, AEK Larnaca are once more battling for their first domestic title, but José Luis Oltra's side have also been impressing in Europe, with reaching the last 16 a major achievement. West Ham have been in shaky form in the Premier League, but have won all eight of their games in UEFA competition this season and can expect some partisan support in Cyprus, which has a large British expatriate community.

Did you know?
West Ham sporting director Mark Noble, a first-team midfielder at the club for 18 years before retiring last summer, will be on familiar terrain in Cyprus. "It's a place that I've been going to all my life for holidays," he told UEFA.com.

Sheriff vs Nice

Having lost the first leg 1-0, Sheriff won 3-1 in Belgrade to eliminate Partizan from the knockout round play-offs and make it through a springtime UEFA club competition tie for the first time in their history. The first leg against Nice will be their 17th European game of a season that began in the first qualifying round, and the French club's midfielder Aaron Ramsey is expecting a hard match: "I have a lot of European experience and know how tough these games can be."

Did you know?
Sheriff have scored only once in their five European home games since the start of the group stage.

Highlights: Partizan 1-3 Sheriff

Anderlecht vs Villarreal

Goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen saved three penalties in the shoot-out that decided Anderlecht's knockout play-off against Ludogorets, and the mood remains positive at the Brussels club despite a tough-looking draw against 2020/21 Europa League winners Villarreal. "I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to show how good we can be," said Anderlecht boss Brian Riemer. "It's a difficult task, that's for sure, but we're up for it."

Did you know?
This is only the Yellow Submarine's second trip to Belgium; they won 2-1 against Club Brugge in the first in 2010, Giuseppe Rossi scoring twice in the first half.

What next?

The second legs take place a week after the first, on 16 March.

Winners of the ties earn a place in the quarter-final draw on Friday 17 March, which is an open draw with no seedings.

Fiorentina vs Sivasspor

The Viola have won their last six European games, but have come unstuck before against Turkish opponents this season, coach Vincenzo Italiano left thoroughly nonplussed after a 3-0 loss at İstanbul Başakşehir in the group stage. Sivasspor topped their group after going unbeaten away from home in the group stage, and coach Rıza Çalımbay is feeling optimistic: "We got one of the strongest teams in the draw, but I have faith in my team. We can do well."

Did you know?
Fiorentina have won all four of their previous home games against Turkish sides, scoring ten goals and conceding just one.

Fiorentina's best Conference League group stage goals

Lech Poznań vs Djurgården

The reigning Polish champions overcame Norway's Bodø/Glimt in the last round and have Nordic opponents again in the form of Sweden's Djurgården. Lech coach Jon van den Brom may be seeking guidance from his three Swedish players: midfielder and captain Jesper Karlström, forward Mikael Ishak and defender Filip Dagerstål, who played for Djurgården from 2015 to 2020 and has won league titles with both of these sides (Djurgården in 2019, Lech last season).

Did you know?
Having topped their section on their group stage debut, Djurgården are playing their first springtime UEFA club competition game.

Basel vs Slovan Bratislava

Slovan have reached the spring stage of a UEFA club competition for the first time since they made it to the 1968/69 European Cup Winners' Cup final, losing 3-2 to Barcelona. However, if the circumstances are a little daunting, Vladimír Weiss's side will not be overawed by their opponents. They met Basel in the group stage, winning 2-0 in Switzerland before the sides played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in the Slovakian capital.

Did you know?
Basel have received more cards than any other side in this season's competition: 26 in total (24 yellow, two red).

Group stage highlights: Slovan Bratislava 3-3 Basel

Gent vs İstanbul Başakşehir

Having eliminated Qarabağ on penalties in the last round, the Buffalos now face Turkish opponents. Encouragingly, their only previous encounters with a Süper Lig side ended in a 2-0 win at home win and a 1-0 away against Konyaspor in the 2016/17 Europa League group stage. However, Başakşehir boss Emre Belözoğlu is hopeful, saying: "We want to continue our progress in the league, cup and Conference League. We are strong enough to get through this round."

Did you know?

Başakşehir's Lucas Biglia and Stefano Okaka both played for Gent's Belgian league rivals Anderlecht, while Adnan Januzaj is a Belgian international.

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Highlights: Gent 1-0 Qarabağ (5-3 pens)