The UEFA Europa League has now entered the Round of 16 stage and some huge ties have been set up.
Two stick out like a sore thumb with bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester United clashing, while Borussia Dortmund against Tottenham Hotspur should be an intriguing battle.
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Liverpool host United at Anfield in the first leg on Thursday before heading to Old Trafford for the return game next Thursday, and remarkably this is the first time they’ve met in European competition.
With Jurgen Klopp calling this “the mother of all games” in the pre-match chat and Louis van Gaal saying it’s a “must win” for his side, expect both teams to go for it in an intense atmosphere. Remember: both Liverpool and United has very slim chances of finishing in the top four of the Premier League this season, so winning the Europa League is their only real hope of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League (the tournament were both teams believe they belong) next season.
As for Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino will rotate his squad for the trip to Dortmund as they sit second in the Premier League table, five points off leaders Leicester City, and winning the PL is their priority. Facing the Bundesliga powerhouse will not be easy but it will also give Spurs’ young squad valuable experience in Europe against the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels. An open, entertaining encounter is expected at the Westfalenstadion for the first leg.
Elsewhere, two-time reigning champs Sevilla head to FC Basel for the first leg, while there’s an all-Spanish clash at the San Mames with Athletic Bilbao hosting Valencia. Another tie which sticks out is Villarreal hosting Javier Hernandez’s Bayer Leverkusen, with both teams competing regularly in the Champions League over the years.
Click on the link above to follow all the games live, while the full schedule for the eight Round of 16 first legs taking place on Thursday can be seen below. Plus, we will have the latest on all the Europa League action right here on ProSoccerTalk.
Thursday’s Europa League schedule
Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur – 1 p.m. ET
Liverpool vs. Manchester United – 3:05 p.m. ET
FC Basel vs. Sevilla – 1 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Anderlecht – 1 p.m. ET
Fenerbache vs. Sporting Braga – 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Valencia – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal vs. Bayer Leverkusen – 3:05 p.m. ET
Sparta Prague vs. Lazio – 3:05 p.m. ET