Europa League Round of 32 First Legs Preview

Just like the Champions League, the Europa League makes a return as the round of 32 first legs are almost with us. We’ve made a short preview for the first legs where you can prepare for the round of 32 to commence.

English involvement

All English sides to compete in this season’s Europa League enjoyed success in the group stage and will all be playing their football in the round of 32. Manchester United, who won the competition back in 2017 face Belgian side Club Brugge, with the first leg taking place in Belgium. Despite having a poor season so far, Manchester United have shown good form in the Europa League, winning 4 of their group games and finishing top of group L and will be favourites to get passed at Club Brugge who finished third in their Champions League group with just 3 points.

Arsenal will be looking to make amends from last season’s Europa League final defeat by going 1 step further and winning the competition, with the Europa League looking to be the only route for Arsenal to return to the Europa League. Their first step to doing so is a trip to Athens to face an Olympiacos side who finished third in their Champions League group, with Bayern Munich and North London rivals Tottenham finishing above them.

Wolves complete the trio of English sides after their impressive group stage form, picking up 4 wins in 6 games and will continue their European journey as they host Spanish side Espanyol at Molineux in their round of 32 first leg. Despite finishing seventh in La Liga last season, as I am writing this Espanyol find themselves bottom of La Liga, having only won 4 of their opening 23 league games, but despite their poor league form, the Spanish side finished top of their Europa League group having won 3 of their 6 games.

For Scotland

After a disappointing defeat in their third Champions League qualifier earlier this season, Celtic put the past behind them as they enjoyed a successful Europa League group stage which saw the Hoops finish top of their group. Their reward for doing so is a tie against Copenhagen, with Celtic heading to Denmark for the first leg.

Despite only winning 2 of their 6 group games, Rangers made sure that they would be joining Celtic in the round of 32 after finishing second in their group, but unlike Celtic, Rangers will be at home for their first leg as they welcome Braga to Ibrox in what will be the first-ever meeting between the 2 sides.

Champions League drop-outs

After their shock exit from the Champions League, last season's Champions League semi-finalists Ajax are one of the favourites to win the Europa League, with their first test being a visit to Spanish side Getafe who find themselves third in La Liga as I am writing this.

Another team tipped to go far in the competition is Inter, as the Italian side finished third in their Champions League group, missing out on the round of 16 to Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund. The Italian side have shown impressive form this season, having won 16 of their opening 23 Serie A games this season and will be looking to continue their form as they travel to Bulgaria to face Ludogorets in their round of 32 first leg.

When RB Salzburg finished third of their Champions League group, missing out to Liverpool and Napoli, many tipped the Austrian side to be the dark horse for the Europa League, since then, however, having lost key personnel with Erling Haaland joining Borussia Dortmund and Takumi Minamino to Liverpool, Salzburg have lost the firepower that they showed in the Champions League. They face a trip to Germany in their round of 32 first leg as they face last season’s Europa League semi-finalists, Eintracht Frankfurt, with Frankfurt having a disappointing season where they have won only 8 of their opening 22 Bundesliga games, including a recent 4-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

All fixtures

Below are all of the Europa League round of 32 first leg ties:

  • Sporting Lisbon vs Istanbul Basaksehir
  • Getafe vs Ajax
  • Copenhagen vs Celtic
  • Cluj vs Sevilla
  • Club Brugge vs Manchester United
  • Ludogorets vs Inter
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs RB Salzburg
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Benfica
  • Wolves vs Espanyol
  • Bayer Leverkusen vs Porto
  • Apoel vs Basel
  • Olympiacos vs Arsenal
  • AZ Alkmaar vs Lask Linz
  • Wolfsburg vs Malmo
  • Roma vs Gent
  • Rangers vs Braga

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