At times, the Europa League feels like the little brother of the Champions League, constantly being given its hand-me-downs. After all, the Europa League misses out on the top finishers in the European domestic leagues and then is given the Champions League eight third-place finishers from its group stage.
But as any little brother or sister can tell you, sometimes there are some pretty sweet hand-me-downs to be had, and this year's Europa League knockout phase is chock full of talented teams and serious contenders.
From two of the top teams in Italy to an English side brimming with talent—and many, many more contenders on top of that—the knockout phase of this year's Europa League should be quite compelling. Below, you'll find all the info you need for the upcoming draw of fixtures.
When: Monday, December 15 at 7 a.m. ET (noon GMT)
Much like the Champions League, the Europa League draw is split into two pots between the teams that won their group (seeded teams) and those that did not. As well, the top four third-place teams from the Champions League are placed into the seeded pot, while the other four third-place teams go in the other.
Again, much like the Champions League, teams that faced each other in the group stage cannot be paired together in the first round of the knockout phase, nor can teams from the same domestic league meet. Beyond that, it's fair game, and yes, we could potentially have a matchup between Tottenham and Juventus in the Round of 32.
How awesome would that be?
- A: Valencia (Spain, 13 pts.)
- B: Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria, 16 pts.)
- C: Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, 18 pts.)
- D: Rubin Kazan (Russia, 14 pts.)
- E: Fiorentina (Italy, 16 pts.)
- F: Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany, 15 pts.)
- G: Genk (Belgium, 14 pts.)
- H: Sevilla (Spain, 12 pts.)
- I: Lyon (France, 12 pts.)
- J: Trabzonspor (Turkey, 14 pts.)
- K: Tottenham Hotspur (England, 18 pts.)
- L: AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands, 12 pts.)
- CL: Napoli (Italy, 12 pts.)
- CL: Benfica (Portugal, 10 pts.)
- CL: Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine, 8 pts.)
- CL: Basel (Switzerland, 8 pts.)
- A: Swansea City (England, 8 pts.)
- B: Chornomorets Odesa (Ukraine, 10 pts.)
- C: Esbjerg (Denmark, 12 pts.)
- D: Maribor (Slovenia, 7 pts.)
- E: Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine, 12 pts.)
- F: Maccabu Tel Aviv (Israel, 11 pts.)
- G: Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine, 10 pts.)
- H: Solvan Liberac (Czech Republic, 9 pts.)
- I: Real Betis (Spain, 9 pts.)
- J: Lazio (Italy, 12 pts.)
- K: Anzhi Makhachkala (Russia, 8 pts.)
- L: PAOK (Greece, 12 pts.)
- CL: Ajax (Netherlands, 8 pts.)
- CL: Juventus (Italy, 6 pts.)
- CL: Porto (Portugal, 5 pts.)
- CL: Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic, 3 pts.)
As mentioned above, both Tottenham and Juventus could meet but, more importantly, they are two of the heavy favorites. Juventus could be on their way to a third straight Serie A title this year and surely will play with some fire after their Champions League disappointment, while Tottenham have gotten off to a slow start in the Premier League but have as much talent as any team in this tournament.
Napoli played well enough to make the knockout phase of the Champions League, earning 12 points in their group, with with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund hanging around, it still wasn't enough to advance. Surely, no team from the unseeded pot will want to draw Rafa Benitez's men.
Ajax and Porto both dropped down from the Champions League as well, and each side are traditional powers and talented squads. Unless they get a brutal draw, both should be serious contenders.
Ditto for Benfica in the seeded pot, which of course reached the final last season, only to lose to Chelsea. Valencia, Fiorentina, Sevilla, Lyon and Basel will also be tough draws from the seeded pot, though given some of the talent in this tournament, are probably long shots to win it all.