The UEFA Europa League Round of 32 will end this Thursday. Sevilla already clinched a spot in the Round of 16, but 15 more teams will learn their fate on Thursday. There won’t be a shortage of quality sides seeing action on different coutries of Europe.
However, there are three games that undoubtedly stand out above the rest after he first leg of matches last week. These are the following:
Arsenal vs BATE Borisov: Gunners with their backs against the wall
When the Round of 32 draw ended few teams were happier than Arsenal. The draw decided The Gunners should go against BATE Borisov. A well-known opponent on the European scene, but one that shouldn’t represent much of a problem for the North London side. After all, Arsenal are the stronger side by a wide margin, and they defeated him during the Europa League last season.
Fast forward to the return leg of this tie, however, and things are not as easy as they might look for Arsenal anymore. BATE won the first leg by a 1-0 score and while Arsenal will close things out, they are forced to gain a positive result. Unai Emery’s men have faltered time and time when they have needed results. Will we witness another disappointment at the Emirates on Thursday? Or will The Gunners keep their dream of winning the Europa League alive for, at least, two more games?
Benfica vs Galatasaray: Two Champions League sides go head to head
Benfica stole a huge 2-1 away win at Galatasaray in the first leg played on Turkey. With that in mind, one would think that The Eagles have a slight edge on this tie. But those who think that couldn’t be any more wrong. In fact, we could be in line for one of the tightest ties in the Round of 32. There’s simply no way to find which side might have the edge on paper – despite Benfica’s lead on the aggregate score.
Both teams are coming off Champions League presences, and both seem to be evenly matched up; Galatasaray and Benfica thrive on the attacking end, but the defensive work is what worries both managers. There’s a chance the home-field advantage becomes key, but Galatasaray are no strangers at scoring on the road: they have done that in their last six away games in all competitions. Last but not least, the Turks have not conceded more than once in an away match since November across all competitions. What will come out of this thrilling encounter?
Betis vs Rennes: What’s going to happen after a thrilling 3-3 draw in the first leg?
Speaking of thriller, no Round of 32 match during the first leg topped what happened between Rennes and Betis. Playing on French soil, Rennes jumped to a 3-1 lead, but Betis stormed back after the break and escaped with a 3-3 draw thanks to a 90th minute goal from Mexican youngster Diego Lainez. But the second leg will be played at Estadio Benito Villamarin. And while there’s no doubt Betis have the edge here, Rennes won’t be an easy opponent.
The Spanish side – whom have been linked with a move for Daniel Sturridge in recent days – hold quite an edge thanks to the fact they scored three goals in the first leg, meaning that even a 2-2 draw would be enough for them to advance. Plus, they’re yet to lose in the tournament (W3, D4) and look super strong at home, where they have lost just one of their last nine home European matches. But Rennes have proven time and time again this season that, when they play at their best, they can match up with any side. Can they pull another upset here?
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