Europa League 2014: Full Predictions and Preview of Last-16 1st Leg Fixtures

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Emmanuel Adebayor of Tottenham Hotspur turns to celebrate after scoring their third goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and  FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk at White Hart Lane on February 27, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The Europa League gets back underway on Thursday with the first legs of the round of 16 throwing up some intriguing match-ups.

Juventus and Fiorentina are pitted against each other for an all-Italian affair, while Tottenham will host Benfica in London.

The likes of Porto's match with Napoli, and Real Betis' visit to Sevilla, will also be fiercely contested as every team will look to get a hold in the tie and ease their path to the quarter-finals.

Read on for full predictions and greater analysis of the various matches.

Europa League 2014: Last-16 1st Leg Fixtures and Predictions
13 March6pm GMT, 2pm ETBasel vs. Red Bull Salzburg1-1
13 March6pm GMT, 2pm ETPorto vs. Napoli2-1
13 March6pm GMT, 2pm ETLudogorets Razgrad vs. Valencia2-2
13 March8.05pm GMT, 4.05pm GMTAZ Alkmaar vs. Anzhi Makhachkala3-1
13 March8.05pm GMT, 4.05pm GMTJuventus vs. Fiorentina2-1
13 March8.05pm GMT, 4.05pm GMTLyon vs. Viktoria Plzen1-0
13 March8.05pm GMT, 4.05pm GMTSevilla vs. Real Betis3-1
13 March8.05pm GMT, 4.05pm GMTTottenham vs. Benfica1-1
BBC Sport


Tottenham vs. Benfica

Armando Franca/Associated Press

The only English team left in the competition, Tim Sherwood's side scraped through to this stage thanks to a fantastic comeback against Dnipro in the last round.

They will be without skipper Michael Dawson who was injured in Spurs' 4-0 thrashing by Chelsea in the league at the weekend.

Home advantage will be key for Tottenham in this first leg to give themselves a good chance of making it through the tie.

Benfica lead the Portuguese league by seven points having not lost a home game all season.

It will be their first visit to White Hart Lane since the European Cup semi-final in 1962. Benfica won that tie and went on to win the whole competition.

Prediction: 1-1

Porto vs. Napoli

NAPLES, ITALY - MARCH 09:  Players of Napoli celebrate the victory after the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and AS Roma at Stadio San Paolo on March 9, 2014 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Both casualties of the Champions League group stages, Napoli in the cruelest of fashions having accrued 12 points, both these sides will have ambitions of winning this tournament.

Porto come into the game on the back of a 4-1 win over Arouca in the league at the weekend and currently sit third behind Sporting Lisbon and Benfica.

Ricardo Quaresma has scored six goals in eight and will likely be Porto's most potent goal threat on the night.

Napoli managed to get past Swansea in the last round despite a valiant effort from the Welsh side in claiming a goalless draw in the first leg.

They also sit third in their domestic league and will look to claim at least one away goal in Portugal.

Prediction: 2-1

Juventus vs. Fiorentina

TURIN, ITALY - MARCH 09:  Fernando Lorente (R) of Juventus clashes with Stefan Savic of ACF Fiorentina during the Serie A match between Juventus and ACF Fiorentina at Juventus Arena on March 9, 2014 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Imag
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Meeting for the second time in a week, this match sees Serie A's top side Juventus take on its fourth-placed side Fiorentina.

In their league meeting on Sunday the Turin side prevailed 1-0, continuing an unbeaten home run that dates back to a loss to Bayern Munich last April.

A daunting prospect then for Vincenzo Montella's men. But they will be buoyed by the fact that they recorded a 4-2 home victory over Antonio Conte’s men in October, Juventus' only league loss of the season.

If Fiorentina can keep it tight in this away leg, they will be confident of winning the tie when they play at home.

Prediction: 2-1