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Europa League: What has happened so far and what are British teams' chances?

Europa League: What has happened so far and what are British teams' chances?

The Europa League gets back under way on Wednesday and Thursday with the conclusion of the last-16 ties.

Manchester United, Wolves, Rangers, Inter Milan and Roma are among the teams still in contention.

Six of the eight last-16 ties are entering second legs at home grounds, with the rest of the tournament being played in various German cities.

What is there to look out for in the next few weeks – and what has happened in the tournament so far?

Who is playing in the last 16?

Wednesday, 5 August

FC Copenhagen v Istanbul Basaksehir (0-1 first leg) 17:55 BST

Shakhtar Donetsk v Wolfsburg (2-1 first leg) 17:55 BST

Inter Milan v Getafe 20:00 BST*

MANCHESTER UNITED v LASK (5-0 first leg) 20:00 BST

Thursday, 6 August

Bayer Leverkusen v RANGERS (3-1 first leg) 17:55 BST

Sevilla v Roma 17:55 BST*

Basel v Eintracht Frankfurt (3-0 first leg) 20:00 BST

WOLVES v Olympiakos (1-1 first leg) 20:00 BST

* Inter Milan v Getafe and Sevilla v Roma are one-off ties in Germany because the first legs were postponed because of coronavirus

Could we see a British winner?

Manchester United lift the Europa League trophy<!–

Manchester United are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the tournament for the second time in four years – and with good reason.

They are practically into the quarter-finals after beating Austrian side LASK 5-0 away from home in March.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have only lost once in their past 22 games in all competitions.

They are the top scorers in this season’s Europa League (21) with more shots (145) and efforts on target (52) than anybody else – and that was before their excellent end-of-season domestic form which saw them clinch a Champions League place.

Wolves are bidding to win their first European trophy (they lost the first Uefa Cup final to Tottenham in 1972).

If they did win they would reach the Champions League/European Cup for the first time since 1959-60, when they lost 9-2 on aggregate to Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Winning the Europa League is their only chance of being in Europe next season after a run of two wins in their last six games saw them drop out of the top six in the Premier League.

In their way are Greek side Olympiakos – who knocked Arsenal out in the previous round. Wolves, whose Europa League campaign started more than a year ago, drew the first leg 1-1 in Athens.

A second consecutive all-English final (Chelsea beat Arsenal in Baku last year) is not possible because United would meet Wolves in the semi-final in Cologne on 16 August if they both get that far.

Rangers – who are in the other half of the draw – look in the worst shape of the three British teams left in the tournament. Steven Gerrard’s side lost 3-1 at home to Leverkusen in their final game before the suspension of football.

They are the only side left in the tournament whose domestic league never restarted. Rangers’ Scottish Premiership opener against Aberdeen on 1 August – which they won 1-0 – was their first competitive game in 142 days.

Who else could win it?

Sevilla win Europa League<!–

The last eight Europa Leagues have been won by English or Spanish teams. Only once in the 10 years since the Uefa Cup was rebranded have another country’s team lifted the cup.

Sevilla – who won it three times in a row from 2014 to 2016 – and 2017 winners Manchester United are the only former Europa League winners in this year’s last 16.

Atletico Madrid (2010, 2012, 2018), Chelsea (2013, 2019) and Porto (2011) are the only other teams to win it.

Among the other favourites to win the tournament are Inter Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Sevilla.

Antonio Conte’s Inter come into the game on the back of their best Serie A season since 2010-11 as they finished second.

The three-time Uefa Cup winners have six former or on-loan Premier League players – Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Christian Eriksen, Ashley Young, Victor Moses and Borja Valero.

Leverkusen – who lead Rangers 3-1 – won the Uefa Cup in 1988. But they are Germany’s nearly men – since their last trophy, the 1993 German Cup, they have lost a Champions League final, three German Cup finals and finished runners-up in the Bundesliga five times.

Sevilla – who finished fourth in La Liga – are the tournament’s specialists, having won it five times – including two Uefa Cups – all in the past 15 years.

Their last-16 opponents Roma, who finished fifth in Serie A, need to win the Europa League to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

There are two other former Uefa Cup winners left in the tournament – Eintracht Frankfurt (1980) and Shakhtar Donetsk (2009).

One team left in this season’s Europa League have never won a major competition before. Two-time Spanish Cup runners-up Getafe were only formed in 1983 and reached La Liga for the first time in 2004.

What happened in this season’s Europa League?

All five British teams in the group stages reached the last 32.

Manchester United and Wolves qualified fairly comfortably from their groups with 13 points, while Arsenal finished top of their group.

Celtic topped a group containing Cluj, Lazio and Rennes, while Scottish rivals Rangers also went through, finishing above Young Boys and Feyenoord.

Lazio were arguably the highest profile group-stage causalities, along with Borussia Monchengladbach – who were eliminated by a 90th-minute Istanbul Basaksehir goal.

In the last 32, Arsenal were eliminated by Youssef El Arabi’s 119th-minute goal as Olympiakos went through on away goals.

Celtic were knocked out by two late FC Copenhagen goals, while Porto, Ajax and Benfica were among the potential contenders who also lost.

Manchester United (6-1 v Club Bruges) and Wolves (6-3 v Espanyol) went through convincingly, while Rangers knocked out Sporting Braga 4-2 on aggregate.

Source: BBC

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