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What to look out for in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off deciders

Qarabağ are continuing to dream, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is eyeing a record and Roma and Feyenoord jostle for supremacy once more.

Europa League ones to watch

Qarabağ's fairy tale continues, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has the chance to make history and Roma and Feyenoord renew acquaintances yet again in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off deciders.

In this piece presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, we pick out some key talking points ahead of the second legs. Remember: Every mission matters.

Early kick-offs (18:45 CET)

Toulouse vs Benfica (1st leg 1-2)
Rennes vs Milan (1st leg 0-3)
Freiburg vs Lens (1st leg 0-0)
Qarabağ vs Braga (1st leg 4-2)

Late kick-offs (21:00 CET)

Roma vs Feyenoord (1st leg 1-1)
Sparta Praha vs Galatasaray (1st leg 2-3)
Marseille vs Shakhtar Donetsk (1st leg 2-2)
Sporting CP vs Young Boys (1st leg 3-1)

Who is through to the last 16?

Atalanta (ITA)
Brighton (ENG)
Leverkusen (GER)
Liverpool (ENG)
Rangers (SCO)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Villarreal (ESP)
West Ham (ENG)

What to look out for

Qarabağ dream continues
At the eighth time of trying, Qarabağ finished in the top two of their Europa League group this season, and their first-ever knockout play-off match went better than they would have ever dared imagine as they put in a superb performance to beat Braga 4-2 in Portugal.

There is still a lot of work to do in the return in Azerbaijan, but the Horsemen could be forgiven for dreaming of a first European round of 16 appearance in the club's history. "We should not be complacent, but must take the return game very seriously," coach Gurban Gurbanov warned. "Teams like Braga can turn the result in their favour very quickly."

Highlights: Braga 2-4 Qarabağ

Aubameyang closing in on record
Marseille forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's strike to open the scoring in the 2-2 first-leg draw against Shakhtar was an important one for his side. But it was also significant on a personal level as it drew him level with former Porto and Atlético de Madrid striker Radamel Falcao as the all-time leading scorer in the Europa League with a total of 30 goals.

Aubameyang, who has previously scored in this tournament for Dortmund, Arsenal and Barcelona, will have the opportunity to take the outright lead if he features in the return leg against Shakhtar in France. He needs to watch out for Roma's Romelu Lukaku, though, who has incredibly scored 17 in his last 18 Europa League games and has a total of 26 in the competition.

See how Aubameyang equalled Europa League top scorer record

Roma vs Feyenoord in the balance
It was no great surprise to see the first leg of Feyenoord's tie against Roma finish in a 1-1 draw in Rotterdam. This is the third season in a row in which these teams have met in European competition, and each of the four games so far have been close, tense affairs.

Roma narrowly beat the Dutch side in the 2021/22 Europa Conference League final and in the 2022/23 Europa League quarter-finals, so Feyenoord will be desperate to make it third time lucky when they travel to Italy. "We have to go there with a lot of confidence," defender Quilindschy Hartman said after the first leg. "We were at least equal to Roma, and that's a good thing to take into next week."

Highlights: Feyenoord 1-1 Roma

Where is the 2024 UEFA Europa League final being played?

©Getty Images

The 2023/24 UEFA Europa League season will conclude at Dublin Arena in the Republic of Ireland on 22 May 2024.

With a capacity in excess of 50,000, Dublin Arena is the home of the Republic of Ireland's national football and Ireland's rugby union team. First opened in 2010, the stadium will be staging its second UEFA Europa League decider, having been the venue for the all-Portuguese final of 2011 between Porto and Braga, when Radamel Falcao scored the only goal as the Dragons took the trophy.

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