Europa League Draw 2018-19: Schedule of Dates for Round-of-16 Fixtures

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2019

The UEFA Europa League Trophy is displayed during the draw for UEFA Europa League football tournament at The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on August 31, 2018. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal will face Stade Rennais in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League, it was confirmed in Friday's draw.

The Gunners, who overcame BATE Borisov in the previous round to progress, may have avoided some of the big names, but they will need to be wary of the Ligue 1 outfit. Rennes produced a brilliant display on Thursday to upset Real Betis 3-1 away from home and advance 6-4 on aggregate. 

Meanwhile, Chelsea will take on Dynamo Kiev, with the first leg to be played at Stamford Bridge. and Frankfurt will face Inter Milan.

The ties will be played on March 7 and March 14. These are the eight encounters to look forward to, with the team at home in the first leg listed first.  

B/R Football @brfootball

Bring it on 🔥 https://t.co/9PotNfaruj



Arsenal avoided a potentially nervy evening at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday by breezing past BATE Borisov 3-0.

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Having lost the first leg 1-0, the team would have been vulnerable had they conceded. However, Unai Emery should be pleased with the professional manner in which the team eventually advanced.

With the likes of Inter, Sevilla, Napoli and Chelsea also in the last 16, the Gunners have avoided some of the top teams. However, Rennais showed how dangerous they can be with their win over a strong Betis outfit.

In Ismaila Sarr, they also possess one of Ligue 1's most exciting and effective young wingers:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Ismaila Sarr has scored more goals in league and European competition for Stade Rennais this season (8) than any other player. Capable of a stunner. 🚀 https://t.co/MnEKFctZql

Chelsea also avoided the big guns, although a trip to Kiev is far from ideal at a point in the campaign when legs and minds are weary.

Despite the mounting pressure on manager Maurizio Sarri after poor domestic results, the team have performed well in the Europa League. The Blues made light work of Malmo in the last-32, eventually getting through the tie 5-1 on aggregate.

The competition has provided relief for Chelsea fans, and the inclusion of some young players in the XI has been refreshing, with Callum Hudson-Odoi making an impression:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Callum Hudson-Odoi has completed the most dribbles in the UEFA Europa League this season, with 25. He's only played 312 minutes. https://t.co/YO0nXMvB1T

The tie of the round will potentially be between Frankfurt and Inter, with the former an up-and-coming side testing themselves against an established European name.

Inter were too strong for Rapid Vienna in the previous round, backing up a 1-0 away win with a 4-0 success at the San Siro. Given they appear secure in the top four in Serie A, manager Luciano Spalletti is expected to make a run at this competition.

Frankfurt have serious firepower at their disposal, though, with a 4-1 win over Shakhtar Donetsk last time out one of their most impressive displays of the season.

Per German football journalist Archie Rhind-Tutt, their front three is lethal:

Archie Rhind-Tutt @archiert1

These three have 44 goals between them in all comps this season. They’re quite good. Would like to see them & Frankfurt against Arsenal/Chelsea. Be a great test. An Eintracht invasion of London would be quite something to see too. https://t.co/mwLk3osyWk

Sevilla, who have won this tournament five times since 2006, will be favourites up against Sparta Prague, whereas Napoli will have their work cut out against last year's semi-finalists Salzburg.

Given Villarreal are in a relegation battle domestically—they sit in 18th in La Liga—a difficult tie and a long trip to Zenit may be too much to deal with.

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