What to look out for in the UEFA Europa League round of 16
Thursday, March 9, 2023
Manchester United head to Spain again, Sporting CP try to protect a proud record and Sevilla versus Fenerbahçe conjures memories.
Article top media content
Arsenal, Fenerbahçe and Real Betis are among the teams returning to the fray as the UEFA Europa League takes its next step on the road to Budapest. The group winners re-enter the fray in the last 16, beginning their knockout campaigns away to the eight knockout round play-off victors.
In this piece presented by Enterprise, we pick out some key talking points ahead of the round of 16.
Round of 16 fixtures: 9 & 16 March
Union Berlin vs Union Saint-Gilloise
Leverkusen vs Ferencváros
Sporting CP vs Arsenal
Roma vs Real Sociedad
Sevilla vs Fenerbahçe
Juventus vs Freiburg
Man United vs Betis
Shakhtar vs Feyenoord
What to look out for
United complete Spanish hat-trick
Manchester United will tread a familiar path as they take on a third different Spanish opponent in this season's competition. Erik ten Hag's men finished second in their group to Real Sociedad, avenging a Matchday 1 reverse by winning the away meeting, then overcame Barcelona in a knockout round play-off thriller.
Furthermore, they have already played Betis this term, the Red Devils slipping to a 1-0 defeat during the mid-season break courtesy of Nabil Fekir's goal. "You know what you get from Spanish football," said Ten Hag following the draw. "They're a ball-playing, skilful team so we have to play our best. We know it's only when you play your best that you have a chance to survive and get into the next round."
History favours Sporting CP over Arsenal
Sporting CP's record against English opposition is nothing short of incredible. They had won all eight of their two-legged UEFA competition knockout ties against English teams before Manchester City ended their streak in last season's UEFA Champions League round of 16, so Mikel Arteta's men will face a tricky test against a club who can flourish in the win-or-bust stages of European competition.
The Lions made amends for that single elimination by taking four points off Tottenham in the Champions League group stage this season and will now set their sights on righting their previous wrong against north London's other team – the Gunners winning 1-0 away and drawing 0-0 at home against Sporting CP in the 2018/19 Europa League group stage.
Fenerbahçe and Sevilla relive a classic
These sides have only been pitched together in one previous European tie, but it was a head-to-head that will live long in the memory. The 2007/08 Champions League round of 16 was the setting for this unforgettable encounter and the Turkish outfit squeezed through in dramatic circumstances.
Semih Şentürk grabbed the late winner in a 3-2 Fenerbahçe success first up, but they needed a Deivid double to force extra time in the return. Penalties were required to separate the two teams in the end, Volkan Demiral the hero with three saves in the shoot-out. More of the same, please!
Where is the 2023 UEFA Europa League final being played?
The 2022/23 Europa League season will conclude at Budapest's Puskás Aréna on 31 May 2023.
Officially opened in 2019, the 65,000+ capacity ground stands on the site of the old Hungarian national team stadium, which was also named in honour of former Honvéd and Real Madrid forward Ferenc Puskás. The venue is located in the Zugló district of the Hungarian capital.