Europa League chances: Liverpool and Tottenham in tough draws
With all the kerfuffle and attention surrounding the Champions League draw, it is easy to forget that English and Scottish top-flight clubs are also competing on the continent in exciting Europa League match-ups.
Here, Coral writers run the rule over some mouthwatering Thursday night fixtures from the last-32, and rate the hopefuls’ chances of triumph in May.
Liverpool are arguably the biggest British fish in the Europa League pond, having dropped out of the Champions League group stage. Brendan Rodgers’ Reds will now face Slaven Bilic’s Besiktas boys, and the former Croatia coach certainly has experience of knocking Englishmen out of competitions.
The Anfield outfit memorably thrashed the Turkish giants 8-0 when these two teams last met, with skipper Steven Gerrard on the scoresheet. Now operating in a deeper role, the 34-year-old must face former Chelsea nemesis Demba Ba, who profited from ‘that’ slip last season.
Following the draw, Gerrard and co are joint third favourites at 12/1 with Coral to dust themselves down and go on to lift the trophy.
Fellow Merseyside men Everton are the Premier League’s next best hope of having a representative in the final and are 14/1 shouts to win in Warsaw.
The Toffees must first find a way past Young Boys, however, and defender Phil Jagielka will have sweet memories of the Stade de Suisse, having once scored for England there against Italy.
Roberto Martinez’s men face the Swiss side having topped Group H and should be feeling bullish about their road to Warsaw.
Tottenham, meanwhile, have a seemingly trickier test after being paired with Serie A side Fiorentina, meaning Manchester City-owned Micah Richards may make a brief return to British shores.
Viola are currently eighth in Serie A, but boast a strong squad including German poacher Mario Gomez and Colombia star Juan Cuadrado.
Spurs are 16/1 for Europa League victory, and have a fond relationship with this competition, having won it twice, including the inaugural trophy, in its original guise as the UEFA cup.
Scottish champions Celtic, rank outsiders at 100/1, also face a stern challenge against historical foes Inter Milan.
The Bhoys have never been beaten by the Nerazzurri in open play in three attempts and, with their lauded Lisbon Lions famously defeating the San Siro side 2-1 in a dramatic 1967 European Cup final, will be relishing this duel.
Former City boss Roberto Mancini has returned to ex-club Inter for a second stint in the hotseat, so will be hoping the spirit of that famous Celtic side does not inspire the Scottish juggernaut to another Italian scalp.
Other notable clashes from the last-32 include holders Sevilla (14/1 to retain their cup) against Bundesliga battlers Borussia Monchengladbach, and 10/1 trophy favourites Roma’s encounter with Dutch giants Feyenoord.
For the full fixture list, read our live European draw reaction here.