The Europa League gets back underway this week, and there are a number of ties hanging on a knife-edge. But, which sides should get through to the next round of the competition and make up the sides that will be competing for a place in the semi-finals?
Bayer Leverkusen vs Rangers
There will be a huge challenge in store for Rangers on Thursday evening, as they will need to overcome a 3-1 defeat from their first leg against Bayer Leverkusen. The Scottish side may have believed that they had a chance of getting back into the tie as George Edmundson pulled one back for them to make the score 2-1 at Ibrox with 15 minutes remaining. However, Leon Bailey’s goal with two minutes remaining to secure a two-goal advantage could be pivotal.
Rangers returned to competitive action over the weekend, as they won 1-0 against Aberdeen. But, they will have to produce an excellent performance to get past this talented Leverkusen side in the Europa League. It’s difficult to see Steven Gerrard’s side winning the game, which will mean an end to their journey in Europe.
Sevilla vs AS Roma
Sevilla have been in excellent form since the restart, as they have gone 17 games without defeat. They will be hoping to continue that excellent form when they take on AS Roma at the MSV-Arena. The tie will be just a one-legged affair as their first leg was postponed. Sevilla have already secured their place in the Champions League for next season, but they have excelled in the Europa League having won the competition on three occasions in the past ten years.
AS Roma will be back in the Europa League next season after they finished the Serie A season in fifth. Their form to end the season was terrific, as they won their last four games. During this run, they scored an impressive 14 goals, and ended the campaign with a 3-1 win against Juventus. However, Sevilla would still be the tip as they have excelled in the Europa League over the past ten years.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Olympiacos
There may be a bit of disappointment within the Wolves camp, as they ended the Premier League season with just one win in their last three. That run of form meant that they finished in seventh place, and they will now have to win this competition to be playing European football again next season. They will go into this fixture with a narrow advantage having got an away goal in the first leg in Greece.
Pedro Neto scored the equalising goal in that fixture as they secured a 1-1 draw. Youssef El-Arabi had given the Greek side the lead in that fixture, but Wolves will be aware the Olympiacos have already stunned Arsenal this season in this competition. That extra-time win at the Emirates will be used as motivation by the travelling side, but it would be hard to bet against Wolves making it through.
Basel vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Last season’s semi-finalists in this competition will have a huge job on their hands to get through to the next round as they were humbled by Basel in the first leg of this round of 16 tie. The Bundesliga side were beaten 3-0 by the underdogs, with Samuele Campo, Kevin Bua and Fabian Frei getting the goals.
Frankfurt will at least take confidence from the way that they ended the Bundesliga season as they won five of their final eight games of the season. There is still enough quality in the Frankfurt side to claim a win in this second leg, but it may not be enough to secure their passage through to the next round of the competition.