UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Breakdown and Predictions

The final 16 teams in the Europa League get set to face off on ties that will straddle the weekend playing today and then next Thursday as well. As of yet, none of the title favorites have hit each other, but Eintracht Frankfurt and Inter could have the most interesting draw. The teams that advance from this round will likely face a stern test from some of Europe’s elite in the quarterfinal stage.

March 7/March 14

Dinamo Zagreb vs. Benfica

Dinamo Zagreb into this match having overturned a first leg deficit where they grabbed a crucial away goal against Viktoria Plzen. Domestically, they are soaring, and with their league match against second-place Rijeka on a Sunday, the Croatian side will have an extra day of rest which could give them an edge in the second leg away from home. Benfica are a side who historically put on a decent showing in Europe and they secured a 2-1 aggregate victory by shutting up shop at home in the second leg against Galatasary. Domestically, the title race is on with Porto, and with a game on Monday, the Portuguese giants will hope to bag an away goal or two before returning home for the second leg.

Prediction: Benfica advancing 3-2 on aggregate

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Inter

Eintracht Frankfurt got through what ended up being a nervy away tie against Shakhtar Donestk thanks in large part to the two away goals they bagged before smashing their Ukrainian opposition 4-1 in the second leg to secure a comfortable progression to the next round. If they can keep Inter off the scoresheet in the first leg, that will go a long way in making life easier in the second leg. Inter easily dispatched of Rapid Wien 5-0 in the Round of 32, but they have found things difficult since then. Their talisman Mauro Icardi has held himself out of training following his removal as Inter’s captain, but he is expected to rejoin training meaning he could feature in the second leg.

Prediction: Eintracht Frankfurt advance 4-2 on aggregate

Stade Rennes vs. Arsenal

Stade Rennes are yet to play this month which is a huge advantage for them over their English opponents. Everything thus far for Rennes has exceeded all expectations for a team currently sitting in the middle of the Ligue 1 table, and advancing in the competition would only add to the excitement around the team. Arsenal have been in the position of being doubted after struggling against inferior opposition, namely Ostersunds in last year’s knockout stages. They will have played a tough tie against Manchester United this weekend before the home leg, but squad rotation may be key along with the ability to create an away goal advantage.

Prediction: Arsenal advance 4-1 on aggregate

Sevilla vs. Slavia Prague

Sevilla dispatched of Lazio in the prior round of the competition 3-0 on aggregate in a result that was somewhat shocking considering the consistency Lazio have displayed. Domestically, things aren’t going as well for the Spanish side, but they still have hope of securing an European place. Slavia Prague were held to a goalless draw against Genk in the past round before they defeated their opponents 4-1 on the road. Domestically, they are still king, and will likely focus their efforts on this tie.

Prediction: Sevilla advance 3-1 on aggregate

Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Villarreal

Zenit narrowly escaped the last round against Fenerbahce needing to win 3-1 at home to progress 3-2 on aggregate. They are currently in first place in the Russian Premier League with second place FC Krasnodar also in the Round of 16. Villarreal are struggling in La Liga at the moment as they sit in the relegation zone with the matches dwindling away. They have so far cruised in Europe with their 2-1 aggregate victory being their sternest test to date.

Prediction: Zenit advance 2-2 on aggregate (away goals rule)

Chelsea vs. Dynamo Kyiv

Chelsea advanced 5-1 on aggregate in what has been a stress-free campaign in Europe so far this term. Their bigger test is the race for Champions League qualification with a top-four finish or winning this competition, but being in the middle of both, they can’t write the league off quite yet. Dynamo Kyiv have historically fared well in Europe and they scraped past Olympiacos 3-2 on aggregate, but had two important away goals to ease their troubles. Domestically, they remain a top contender in Ukraine and will likely secure berth either in this competition or the Champions League next term.

Prediction: Chelsea advance 4-1 on aggregate

Napoli vs. Salzburg

Napoli eased through the past round 5-1 on aggregate and the Champions League drop-downs have a chance for European glory now that they are one of the big fish in this competition. With the Serie A title race all but over, and a top four finish relatively likely, they will probably continue fielding strong squads in Europe aiming to win this competition. Salzburg advanced 5-2 on aggregate following their 4-0 drubbing of Club Brugge in the last round. They are also comfortably atop the Austrian Bundesliga, so Europe will also be a main focus.

Prediction: Napoli advance 4-3 on aggregate

Valencia vs. FC Krasnodar

Valencia negotiated their way past Celtic 3-0 on aggregate where they were easily the superior team. In Spain, they have clawed their way back into the hunt for a European place, but with a two-sided fight on their hands, it could impact their European campaign. FC Krasnodar were the beneficiaries of the away goals rule to get to this point, but they are still a formidable threat to Valencia. They are vying for the Russian Premier League title, and will hope to continue going strong at home and abroad.

Prediction: FC Krasnodar advance 1-1 on aggregate (away goals rule)

UEFA Europa League Round of 32 Predictions

If you have already gotten a chance to check out the Champions League predictions, I appreciate you looking at them. Unfortunately, my familiarity with many of the teams in the Europa League is limited, and with 16 ties, it would be difficult to give you quality breakdowns. Therefore, you’ll have to wait until the Round of 16 for the Europa League to get breakdowns.

February 12/February 21

Fenerbahce vs. Zenit St. Petersburg

Prediction: Zenit St. Petersburg through 4-2 on aggregate

February 14/February 20

Lazio vs. Sevilla

Prediction: Lazio through 4-1 on aggregate

February 14/February 21

Rapid Wien vs. Inter

Prediction: Inter through 5-1 on aggregate

Slavia Prague vs. Genk

Prediction: Genk through 3-2 on aggregate

FC Krasnodar vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Prediction: FC Krasnodar through 4-2 on aggregate

Rennes vs. Real Betis

Prediction: Real Betis through 2-1 on aggregate

Olympiacos vs. Dynamo Kyiv

Prediction: Dynamo Kyiv through 1-0 on aggregate

BATE Borisov vs. Arsenal

Prediction: Arsenal through 6-1 on aggregate (Did you really expect me to pick BATE Borisov?)

Galatasaray vs. Benfica

Prediction: Galatasaray through 3-2 on aggregate

Viktoria Plzen vs. Dinamo Zagreb

Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb through 4-2 on aggregate

Club Brugge vs. Salzburg

Prediction: Salzburg through 2-2 on aggregate (away goals)

FC Zürich vs. Napoli

Prediction: Napoli through 5-0 on aggregate

Malmo FF vs. Chelsea

Prediction: Chelsea through 6-0 on aggregate

Shakhtar Donestk vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Prediction: Shakhtar Donestk through 3-3 on aggregate (away goals)

Celtic vs. Valencia

Prediction: Valencia through 3-2 on aggregate

Sporting CP vs. Villarreal

Prediction: Sporting CP through 3-1 on aggregate