Players to Watch in the Europa League RO16 - Odds, Tips & Predictions

Jean-Pierre Nsame – BSC Young Boys

One of those big fixtures in the Round of 16 sees Ajax and Young Boys go head-to-head, as the Dutch champions and the Swiss champions lock horns. Many will see the four-time European Cup winners as the clear favourites, but Young Boys aren’t to be underestimated. The Swiss outfit can afford to focus their attention purely on the Europa League, sitting a staggering 19 points clear of FC Basel in the Swiss Super League.

They have plenty of talented players that helped them progress out of the group stages of this competition before claiming a big scalp in the form of German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the last round. One of which is striker Jean-Pierre Nsame. The 27-year-old striker has the pace, strength and attacking movement to cause real problems for any team in the Europa League. The Cameroonian has hit an impressive 12 goals and four assists in 19 appearances in the Swiss Super League, as well as four goals and two assists in the six Europa League appearances he’s made this season.

Nsame is one to look out for, and if he can find the net Young Boys will fancy their chances of surprising another big side in the competition.

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Youssef El-Arabi – Olympiakos

Eyes will be on how the British teams fare in the competition, with many looking at Arsenal and Manchester United as favourites for the competition. Arsenal have drawn what looks on paper an easy draw, but Olympiakos could provide a potential banana skin for Mikel Arteta’s side. The Greek outfit are another team that have dominated their domestic league, sitting 14 points clear in the Greek Super League.

They also caused somewhat of an upset in the last round, beating PSV to book their place into the round of 16. One of their key players is former Granada attacker Youssef El-Arabi, who has been in fine form this season and should be one to watch for the Gunners.

El-Arabi’s numbers speak for themselves, hitting 17 goals and 2 assists in 21 league games this season. The Moroccan also has a goal to his name in the Europa League after making just the two appearances. The 31-year-old is an experienced striker, having spent his career in Ligue 1 with SM Caen and in La Liga with Granada and El-Arabi is one that Arsenal will have to look out for.

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Rafael Leao - AC Milan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the name on everyone’s lips when the draw was made which saw his current team AC Milan paired with his old side Manchester United. However, with the iconic Swede set to miss out on at least the first leg of the tie through injury, who could provide a handful for the Red Devils?

Young striker Rafael Leao will more than likely take the place of the big Swede and can still cause plenty of issues for the United backline. The 21-year-old is quick and can dribble with the ball and can be a huge threat, especially on the counterattack and the former Lille man has provided six goals and five assists in all competitions this season. The Portuguese youngster’s pace will be a handful for the likes of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

With Ibrahimovic set to miss out, it gives a chance for Leao to prove himself and stake a claim for a place up front, one which he could make a strong claim for with a top performance in the Europa League.

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Abdallah Sima - Slavia Prague

Another British team that will be focused on by many is Rangers, who face a tricky test against Slavia Prague. The tie sees two of the best teams of the tournament so far meet, after the Czech side pulled off a big win to get past Leicester City in the last round and if they play this way again, the newly-crowned Scottish champions will be in trouble.

Abdallah Sima got the second goal in their away triumph at the King Power, scoring his 15th goal in all competitions for Slavia’s first team this season, after spending some time with the B team.

The 19-year-old has four goals and an assist in eight Europa League appearances so far.The quick and pacey forward has been linked with Everton and PSG since bursting onto the scene with Slavia and could show why if given the chance against Rangers.

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Gerard Moreno - Villarreal

Unai Emery’s Villareal will be looking to progress into the quarterfinals after being drawn against Dinamo Kyiv in the round of 16. The Spanish side are favourites for the tie, and Emery has a good side that is more than capable of progressing. One of the standout players for the Yellow Submarine is striker Gerrard Moreno.

The Spanish marksman has been in fine form this season, hitting 14 goals and two assists in 20 La Liga appearances so far. Moreno has formed a fantastic partnership with former Borussia Dortmund striker Paco Alcacer up front for Villareal, with both players finding goalscoring form. Moreno has been the main talisman for his club this season, with his sublime finishing abilities finding the back of the net. He’s also got two goals and an assist in the Europa League this season from just five appearances, a double which helped Emery’s men on their way to victory over RB Salzburg in the last round.

You can expect him to play a big part in any success his team have this season.

By Jordan Edmonds

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