Europa League draw-Man United handed favourable opponents


The Europa League draw has thrown up some interesting clashes, with a handful of talented teams surely looking at the tournament as a real chance of silverware this term.

Manchester United will be favourites to progress from the round of 32 with after being pitted against Danish minnows FC Midtylland.

Louis van Gaal’s men will still be rueing not progressing from a manageable Champions League pool, with defeat in their last game against Wolfsburg condemning the Red Devils to Europe’s second-tier tournament.

However, the Dutch trainer has the chance to regain a feel-good factor at Old Trafford by progressing in the Europa League, with the Scandinavians not the most daunting opponent.

Tottenham will come face-to-face with the team that knocked them out of the tournament last season, with a reunion against Fiorentina to take place.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men look more assured and solid this term, but the Italian side have also progressed under Paulo Sousa and are in the higher echelons of Serie A after a good start.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will have mixed emotions as he takes his side to Germany to face Augsburg in a potential banana-skin clash.

The Bundesliga side have been quiet achievers in recent seasons, but the former Borussia Dortmund trainer will know them well from his time at Signal Iduna Park.

Klopp’s former club have been drawn in arguably the most mouth-watering clash of the round, with Dortmund to face up against Porto.

The Portuguese powerhouses dropped down from the Champions League and it is fair to assume that the winner of this clash will be one of the frontrunners to win the entire tournament.

Italian side Lazio will have to storm a volatile reception in their first-leg away clash with Galatasaray, while Schalke and Shakhtar Donetsk look evenly matched.

German side Bayer Leverkusen were unlucky to be knocked out of the Champions League and have been handed a very tricky tie in the form of in-form Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon.

There could well be a tetchy atmosphere on the terraces as Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow have been paired with Turks Fenerbahce, with their respective host nations at loggerheads politically.

Napoli have put forward a case to be considered as possible Italian champions this term, but their match-up with Villarreal looks set to be very tight.

Sevilla will fancy their chances of ousting Norwegians Molde, while Gary Neville’s Valencia are favourites against Rapid Vienna.

From the remaining fixtures, Olympiakos, Saint-Etienne, Braga and Kuban Krasnodar are likely to progress.


Klopp expecting for a louder game in Anfield

jurgen klopp liverpool

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]iverpool is going to play Europa League under new manager Jurgen Klopp and it’s a first home match for him. Last week match against Tottenham proved that Liverpool is changing after Klopp’s arrival.

This time they are going to play in Anfield and it will be a big match and good entertainment for the fans. Liverpool is missing some key players due to injury, but they can hold the opponents with new game plans.

About his first home match:

Klopp said: “I’m really looking forward to this game, it’s by night, by light and a special atmosphere,”

“It’s my first home game and hopefully we can take this special atmosphere and transport it into the game. I want to go there, I want to feel it. That’s what we’re all waiting for, these special moments.

“Of course if somebody wants to surprise us and be louder and wilder than ever in your life, try to! We have to concentrate but we have to be open for help from outside. If somebody wants to help us then that’s cool.

“This Europa League is quite open. It could be a big step for us in this group. We want to see the next step in our development. We have this experience of the Tottenham game. It wasn’t perfect but it was a step in the right direction.

“Now this is completely different. Tottenham press hard and that was why the game was so wild. Rubin Kazan have a special style in play. We have to be very careful and concentrate and fight for the second balls because they play long balls.

“We have to be organised and be fully concentrated in set-plays because they are taller than us. That is the challenge. But hopefully we’ll be a bigger challenge for them.

“We have to be patient, in a football way. I hope no-one is waiting for it to be 4-0 after three minutes and is then disappointed.”

It seems Klopp is going to take the Europa League a lot more seriously than others.