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Heavyweights line up for knockout drama

A meeting of two former European champions and FC Salzburg's defence of the competition's only unblemished record will be among the highlights of the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

Ajax will take on Juventus in a mouthwatering tie
Ajax will take on Juventus in a mouthwatering tie ©Getty Images

A meeting of two former European Champion Clubs' Cup winners and FC Salzburg's defence of the competition's only unblemished record are among the highlights when the UEFA Europa League resumes with the round of 32.

The AFC Ajax-Juventus tie will evoke memories of the 1996 UEFA Champions League final between the clubs, which the Bianconeri won 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Rome, and the 1973 showpiece, edged 1-0 by Ajax in Belgrade. Together the pair contribute six of the 16 European Cups accrued by the last-32 teams. Liverpool FC have won five of those and, having last played in this competition in 2003/04, face another team who transferred from the UEFA Champions League, FC Unirea Urziceni.

Ajax and Liverpool are at home in the first leg, as are Everton, who encounter Sporting Clube de Portugal having lost 5-0 to the Lisbon outfit's city rivals, SL Benfica, in the group stage. Holders FC Shakhtar Donetsk travel to Fulham FC for the first part of their tie aiming to do what no other team has managed since the London club made their European debut in 2002 – defeat them at Craven Cottage.

The only team to win every game in the group stage, Salzburg, resume at R. Standard de Liège, whose Eerste Klasse rivals RSC Anderlecht face an Athletic Club team boasting the competition's top scorer, six-goal Fernando Llorente. Hamburger SV will aim to take one step closer to the final staged at their Arena Hamburg home when they tackle PSV Eindhoven, while Werder Bremen − last season's beaten finalists − face a tough tie against FC Twente.

In the pick of the remaining first legs, 2004 winners Valencia CF travel to Club Brugge KV, Club Atlético de Madrid welcome Galatasaray AŞ and Panthinaikos FC host AS Roma. For a full list of all the round of 32 ties, click here.