16 teams participating in the Europa League had not had much time analyzing the 1st Legs and just 7 days later they are going play the decisive 2nd legs. Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Marseille were the biggest winners of the matches last week and could be considered as favorites to go through, but there is plenty to play for in all 8 games.
Lokomotiv Moscow – Atletico Madrid (0-3)
The Spanish side won comfortably the first game 3-0 thanks to goals from Saul, Diego Costa, and captain Koke and now they are having the next round in their sights. Lokomotiv will need a big performance if they are to qualify but are facing an in-form side, which won over the weekend too. Diego Simeone’s men beat Celta by 3-0 in La Liga and will be hoping to avoid any surprise heavy loss which is going to eliminate them from the cup. Diego Simeone could rotate his side a bit knowing that a tricky away game is coming on Sunday – away to Villareal.
Plzeň – Sporting CP (0-2)
Sporting CP travels to the Czech Republic holding a 2-0 advantage, although Viktoria Plzeň’s impressive home form gives them some room for optimism. Colombian forward Fredy Montero, who returned for a second spell with Sporting in January, scored both goals in the first leg against Plzeň either side of the interval to decide the first European encounter between the two clubs in the home side’s favor. His second goal was the 300th scored by a Portuguese club in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. Czech league leaders Viktoria Plzeň who finished top of Group G in the autumn thanks to wins in each of their last three matches, saw off Serbian champions Partizan 3-1 on aggregate in the last 32, a 1-1 draw in Belgrade preceding a 2-0 home victory. Plzeň have won all five home games in this season’s UEFA Europa League to make it six in a row in this competition, scoring 17 goals over that stretch so the host is having their chances. Sporting will be without suspended Sebastian Coates and William Carvalho.
Athletic Bilbao – Marseille (1-3)
Marseille, who were beaten by Athletic in the round of 32 two years ago, is well placed to turn the tables this time around as they travel to Spain with a 3-1 first-leg lead. The French side went ahead in the first leg at the Stade Vélodrome after just 44 seconds when Lucas Ocampos deftly converted from close range. The Argentinian later completed the scoring after OM skipper Dimitri Payet had doubled his team’s lead with a fierce volley and Aduriz had reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time from the penalty spot. Aduriz 8th goal in the competition give Athletic some chances and Marseille bad away form mean that the contest is wide open. OM have not won on the road in the last seven attempts. The Spanish side will be hoping for an early goal which definitely will add pressure to their opponents.
Zenit – Leipzig (1-2)
Leipzig looked to have taken a step towards the last eight when they raced into a two-goal lead in Germany, but Domenico Criscito’s fine late free-kick means the tie is back in the balance. Second-half goals from Bruma and Timo Werner – the Germany striker’s sixth goal in Europe this season, and first at home – looked to have given Leipzig a decisive advantage as the first leg entered its closing stages. However, on 86 minutes an exquisite free-kick from Zenit left-back Domenico Criscito gave the visitors a precious away goal to bring back to St Petersburg. The Germans will have only themselves to blame if they crash out, having dominated during large spells of the first game and missing some golden chances. Zenit has never lost at home in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, winning 17 of their 18 matches in St Petersburg, meaning that European debutants from Germany will be handed a real tough challenge.
Dynamo Kyiv – Lazio (2-2)
After an entertaining 1st Leg at Olimpico in Rome, the teams now meet in Ukrainian capital for a conclusion of their tie. Both clubs are competing at this stage for the third time. This is Dynamo’s 50th match in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final; they become the ninth club to reach that milestone, one of the others being Lazio, who are participating in their 54th encounter. After a goalless first half, the first leg came alive with three goals in ten minutes, Dynamo took the lead through Viktor Tsygankov’s third goal in as many UEFA Europa League away games before Ciro Immobile – with his sixth of the competition – and Felipe Anderson quickly turned the match in Lazio’s favor. The final word, however, went to Dynamo substitute Júnior Moraes, who equalized on 79 minutes to become the competition’s second highest scorer this season on seven goals. Dynamo lost Denys Garmash to a second yellow card deep into added time after their captain arguing with the officials. Lazio will be hoping to feature in the next years Champions League stages, so they can do it by either winning Uefa Europa League or finishing in Top 4 in Seria A. Currently Simone Inzaghi’s side is sitting on the 4th place but face a tough European encounter against experienced Dynamo.
Arsenal – Milan (2-0)
Arsenal managed to get a surprising win in the 1st leg thanks to first-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey. Arsene Wenger upset all odds and won despite the form book but have to improve their knockout home form to complete the job against Milan. Arsenal, the lone English representatives in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, won four of their six autumn encounters to top Group H before knocking out European debutants Östersund in the round of 32. After winning the first leg 3-0 in Sweden, they suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home. According to Milan’s history of playing in England, the Gunners must be very positive about their chances. Milan has just one victory to their name in 16 matches away from home against English clubs, losing on nine occasions and failing to score on their last three visits. Their only win on English soil was a 1-0 success in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League round of 16 against Manchester United at Old Trafford – the same ground on which they had won the UEFA Champions League final on penalties after a 0-0 draw against Juventus two years earlier. Gennaro Gattuso’s Rossoneri will be going to London not as tourists, as the manager said in his pre-match conference.
Europa League – Round of 16, March 15
17:00 Lokomotiv Moscow – Atletico Madrid
19:00 Athletic Bilbao – Marseille
19:00 Dynamo Kyiv – Lazio
19:00 Viktoria Plzen – Sporting CP
19:00 Zenit – Leipzig
21:05 Arsenal – AC Milan
21:05 Lyon – CSKA Moscow
21:05 Salzburg – Borussia Dortmund
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