Wednesday, September 27, 2023

UEFA to make announcement that could affect Arsenal in Europa League round of 16 draw

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Arsenal’s potential route to this season’s Europa League final is shaping up to be arguably the most competitive since the competition was rebranded.

Despite the Gunners finishing top of their group and thus benefitting from a major UEFA rule change where ‘group winners progress automatically to the round of 16’, looking at the teams that have transferred over from the Champions League will almost certainly make things a lot more difficult.

Before action from Europe’s elite club competition paused in November, it was confirmed that Barcelona, Ajax, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Salzburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting CP and record six-time Europa League winners Sevilla had qualified for the knockout play-off round having finished third in their respective groups.

As the second leg knockout play-off round ties are played on Thursday, very soon the picture will become clearer as to who Arsenal must overcome in order to lift their first European trophy since 1994 as there’s a chance Manchester United, AS Roma, Juventus and Monaco will join in the round of 16.

Currently, it would appear that Sevilla have one foot in the round of 16 after beating PSV Eindhoven – who were runners-up to the Gunners in the group phase – 3-0 last week, whilst it’s all set up for a classic between Man United and Barcelona following a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou.

Juventus have some work to do after being held at home by Nantes, Jose Mourinho’s Roma must overturn a 1-0 deficit against Salzburg and there could be somewhat of a surprise on the cards with Union Berlin holding Dutch giants Ajax to a goalless draw in the away leg.

But who can and can’t Arsenal be paired with when the Europa League round of 16 draw takes place? Well, takes a look.

This means the north London outfit can’t play Real Betis, Fenerbahce, Ferencvaros, Feyenoord, Freiburg, Real Sociedad or Union Saint-Gilliose as they are the other seven UEFA Europa League group stage winners. In addition, Mikel Arteta’s side can’t be paired with Man United if they eliminate Barcelona because they are from the same association.

However, Arsenal would be in a position to draw the current La Liga leaders if they emerge victorious at Old Trafford along with Ajax/Union Berlin, Juventus/Nantes, Bayer Leverkusen/Monaco, Salzburg/Roma, Sevilla/ PSV Eindhoven, Shakhtar/ Rennes and Sporting CP/Midtjylland.

With that said, the UEFA’s website does state ‘further restrictions will be announced before the draw’ and it remains to be seen if Arsenal could be paired with PSV Eindhoven – if the Dutch side pull off a memorable comeback – as the two teams met in the group phase.

When is the Europa League round of 16 draw?

The 2022/23 UEFA Europa League round of 16 draw will take place at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday, February 24 2023 at 12pm CET.

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