Europa League – Round of 16 – First Legs – 8 March 2018

Europa League - Round of 16 - First Legs - 8 March 2018
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The road to this year’s final in Lyon, France is in full swing and 16 teams from 10 different countries enter Round 16 of the Europa League. The UEFA Europa League round of 16 features a stellar cast of names with ten previous finalists – including three former winners – joined by dangerous hopefuls such as AC Milan, Lyon, and Leipzig. One of competitions favorites Atletico Madrid face a tough challenge in Russian champions’ hopefuls Lokomotiv Moscow and another big team willing to reach the final is going to be Lyon, knowing that the game will be played on their home stadium. Milan – Arsenal is probably the tie of the round. Elsewhere, two impressive German teams remain in the tournament – Dortmund, and Leipzig, but surprisingly or not – the most represented country in the Europa League is Russia with 3 remaining – CSKA, Lokomotiv, and Zenit.

 

Milan – Arsenal

The Italians are being forced back into life by their new manager Gennaro Gattuso and continued their impressive domestic form by overcoming Bulgarians Ludogorets Razgrad by winning 4-0 on aggregate. Arsenal meanwhile is finding it tough in 2018 and the recent slump in form raised questions over the future of their legendary manager Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman is under fire after losing the 2nd leg of Round 32 tie against Swedish minnows Östersund and two consecutive losses against Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion in the league and a 0-3 defeat against City in the Carabao Cup final. Milan will have a further advantage because their game against local rivals Inter FC was postponed due to the sudden passing of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori. Both teams have a history of facing each other in Europe, with Milan winning comfortably 4-0 in 2012 and Arsenal winning 2-0 at the San Siro in 2008.

Milan - Arsenal

Prediction: both teams to score and over 2.5

Dortmund – Salzburg

The teams have never met previously in Europe and the host will hope to maintain their perfect record in terms of facing Austrian outfits – 4 out of 4. The Austrian champions are leading the way domestically in the Austrian Bundesliga and will be hoping to feature again next year in the Champions Leagues, but everything they do in the Europa League will be considered a bonus. The Germans are looking brand new after the transfer window where they sold they star player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but were reinforced with the in-form Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian was the crucial player who helped them beating Atalanta in the previous round. If Dortmund is going to defeat their Austrian opponents, they must surely rely again on the goals of the on-loan Chelsea striker and definitely of marking Salzburg’s top marksman Munas Dabbur.

Dortmund – Salzburg

Prediction: Dortmund to win and over 2.5

CSKA Moscow – Lyon

The 2005 winners CSKA are facing last year’s semi-finalists in the Russian capital. The home side had difficulties in their previous round game against Serbian Crvena Zvezda and won courtesy of an Alan Dzagoev single goal in their 1-0 home win. Lyon was quite impressive by winning both games against Spanish Villareal – 3-1 and 1-0. CSKA haven’t conceded a goal in 2018 yet, but Lyon’s attacking options are really impressive – captain Nabil Fekir, Bertrand Traore, Mariano Diaz and Memphis Depay. The home team’s task will be even harder because they are going to be without their suspended defender Vasili Berezutski.

CSKA Moscow – Lyon

Prediction: draw

Atletico Madrid – Lokomotiv Moscow

Athletico has won 5 in a row, conceding 0 goals and Diego Simeone will be hoping his side to continue their fine display. Two-time UEFA Europa League winners Atlético Madrid continue their pursuit of a record-equalling third triumph with a round of 16 tie against Russian Premier League leaders Lokomotiv Moskva, who are at this stage of the competition for the first time. Having crossed over from the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in their group, Atlético easily disposed of Danish champions FC København in the round of 32, winning 4-1 in Copenhagen and 1-0 in Madrid with UEFA Europa League scoring specialist Kevin Gameiro on target in both games. Lokomotiv also won both legs of their round of 32 tie against Nice – 3-2 in the south of France and 1-0 in the Russian capital with the most-impressive player being their star midfielder Manuel Fernandes.

Atletico Madrid – Lokomotiv Moscow

Prediction: Atletico to win and over 2.5

Marseille – Athletic Bilbao

In-form French giants Marseille, together with Lyon will be hoping for a French success in Europa League knowing that the final will be played in their country. Marseille is unbeaten at home in Europe this term and a temporary distraction in the 2nd Leg defeat in the previous round must not be considered that important. Led by experienced Dmitri Payet and Valere Germain, the host can be very dangerous in attack, but they must not forget about Athletic’s Aritz Aduriz. The evergreen Basque striker notched 7 goals already and he is leading goal scorer in the Europa League. The Spanish side is finding it really tough in Primera Division and is currently sitting on 14th place. Bilbao lost to Spartak Moscow at home 1-2 in the previous round and nearly crashed out of the tournament but have been impressive in their away win before that in the Russian capital by winning 3-1.

Marseille – Athletic Bilbao

Prediction: Athletic to win

Lazio – Dynamo Kyiv

Lazio will be hoping to avoid the hangover from last week Coppa Italia disappointment when they went out on penalties by Milan on ½-Final. They are going to rely on their striking star Ciro Immobile after he hit 3 goals in the last Europa League game against FCSB n his first start in this season’s competition. His two goals in the group stage, against Vitesse and Zulte Waregem, came as a substitute. Felipe Anderson will be hoping that his man of the match display would earn him a starting berth. The Ukrainians must be on red alert as they have 4 players on verge of being suspended if booked – Volodymyr Shepeliev, Denys Garmash, Derlis González and their leading goal scorer Júnior Moraes. The Brazilian forward hit 6 goals in the competition and is only 1 goal away in second place behind Aritz Aduriz.

Lazio – Dynamo Kyiv

Prediction: Lazio to win

 

Here it’s the full list of Round 16, 1st Leg:

AC Milan – Arsenal

Atletico Madrid – Lokomotiv Moscow

Borussia Dortmund – Salzburg

CSKA Moscow – Lyon

Lazio – Dynamo Kyiv

Marseille – Athletic Bilbao

RasenBallsport Leipzig – Zenit St. Petersburg

Sporting CP – Viktoria Plzen

 

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