Europa League preview: Italy, England vie for more than just the next round

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

How England’s best fare in Europe is as important as ever, with the Premier League’s fourth automatic UEFA Champions League spot at risk if English sides fail and Italian sides thrive.

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After the first legs of the Europa League‘s Round of 32, here’s how we stand between the two nations. Neither league has a team leading, though Spurs and Lazio have scoring road draws:

English sides
Liverpool hosts Augsburg after 0-0 leg
Spurs host Fiorentina after 1-1 leg
Manchester United hosts Midtjylland after 2-1 loss in first leg

Italian sides
Fiorentina visits Spurs after 1-1 leg
Napoli hosts Villarreal down 1-0
Lazio hosts Galatasaray after 1-1 leg

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Over in the Champions League, only Man City is set to go through after one leg, with Roma, Arsenal, Juventus and Chelsea behind the proverbial 8-ball.

So English fans, even Arsenal supporters, should try to stomach rooting for Spurs especially on Thursday.

As for the rest of the tournament, there stands to be drama in Napoli, Bilbao and Gelsenkirchen after tight first legs.

Second leg kickoffs

Augsburg's Caiuby, right, and Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho challenge for the ball during the Europa League soccer match between FC Augsburg and FC Liverpool in Augsburg, southern Germany, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Augsburg’s Caiuby, right, and Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader).

Lokomotive Moscow vs. Fenerbahce — 11 a.m. ET
Krasnodar vs. Sparta Prague — 1 p.m. ET
Liverpool vs. Augsburg — 1 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Sporting CP — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Schalke vs. Shakhtar Donetsk — 1 p.m. ET
Rapid Wien vs. Valencia — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Galatasaray — 1 p.m. ET
Manchester United vs. Midtjylland — 3:05 p.m. ET
Molde vs. Sevilla — 3:05 p.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fiorentina — 3:05 p.m. ET
Basel vs. Saint-Etienne — 3:05 p.m. ET
Olympiacos vs. Anderlecht — 3:05 p.m. ET
Porto vs. Borussia Dortmund — 3:05 p.m. ET
Napoli vs. Villarreal — 3:05 p.m. ET

First leg resultsROUNDUP
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Porto
Augsburg 0-0 Liverpool
Fiorentina 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Midtjylland 2-1 Manchester United
Villarreal 1-0 Napoli
Sevilla 3-0 Molde
Valencia 6-0 Rapid Wien
Marseille 0-1 Athletic Bilbao
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Schalke
Sporting CP 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Galatasaray 1-1 Lazio
Saint-Etienne 3-2 Basel
Anderlecht 1-0 Olympiacos
Fenerbahce 2-0 Lokomotiv Moscow (Tuesday)
Sion 1-2 Braga
Sparta Prague 1-0 Krasnodar