Europa League: How will the three British clubs fare in the last 32?


Europa League

Although it's not Europe's most prestigious club competition, the UEFA Europa League still ranks highly amongst football fans from all over the continent. Winners of the Europa League will earn themselves a place in the 2019/20 Champions League season, providing a strong incentive for those teams who reach the latter stages of the competition.

Two of those teams are expected to be Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, with the latter tasting success in the Europa League in 2013. The English duo will also have Celtic accompanying them in the last 32, although the Scottish champions do have the toughest looking fixture.

Here, we take a look at all three British sides chances of progression to the Europa League last 16.

Arsenal v Bate Borisov

The North Londoners will make the trip to Belarus on Valentine's Day in the first-leg before the return leg seven days later, with no love lost for former Gunner Alexander Hleb. The veteran midfielder spent three years at Arsenal and although he didn't exactly set the world on fire, he was regarded as a decent enough addition before leaving for FC Barcelona in 2008.

Arsenal boss Unai Emery will expect his side to take the game to the hosts in the first instance, with a couple of away goals at least a likelihood. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexander Lacazette have featured in this year's competition, with Emile Smith Rowe getting amongst the goals with two strikes from midfield.

Across the middle of the park, Arsenal will have too much for their hosts and it's expected they will attack with intent from the first whistle. The tie does have the inklings of a major upset but in reality, expect Emery to take another step towards his fourth Europa League title.

Chelsea v Malmo

Maurizio Sarri's side travel to Sweden in the first leg of their last 32 tie to face Malmo. The Swedish club are managed by former Manchester City striker Uwe Rosler and actually pipped Besiktas to top their group. As impressive as they've been this season, the Scandinavian side will face an almighty task in trying to topple Chelsea.

The Blues, as expected, have looked strong in the Europa League this season and have an abundance of talent to call upon in their ranks. Unsurprisingly, the west Londoners are favourites to win the competition outright, with Europa League on Betfair odds available now.

Similarly to Arsenal, Sarri's side are expected to take the game to Malmo and will likely take a two goal advantage back to Stamford Bridge. The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Olivier Giroud will be vital to Chelsea's chances whereby both have really impressed in the Europa League so far.

Europa League

Celtic v Valencia

Undoubtedly with the hardest tie of the three British clubs, Celtic will square-off with Spanish side Valencia. The La Liga side finished third in their Champions League group behind Juventus and Manchester United.

The Bhoys do have the slight advantage of playing at Celtic Park in the first-leg, whereby the hostile and electric atmosphere could lean in their favour. But they'll need to be at their very best to get anything from the game.

Valencia are faltering somewhat in La Liga this term, but that shouldn't disguise the fact they'll have too much for the Scottish giants over the course of the two games.



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