18 December 2009

Europa League Knockout Draw

So it's Unirea Urziceni, with the first leg at Anfield and the second in Bucharest.

The winner will meet Lille or Fenerbahce in the Round of 16. I’m assuredly not looking past any opponents after the CL group stage, but that could have been worse. That could have been a lot worse.

It could have been Everton or Fulham’s draw. Everton are paired with Sporting Lisbon, while Fulham face the holders, Shakhtar Donetsk. And if either side progresses, they’d have to face Atletico/Galatasaray or Ajax/Juventus respectively. Yikes. The Atletico/Gala and Ajax/Juve are two of the most tantalizing matchups, along with Hamburg against PSV.

Unirea Urziceni was the surprise package of the Champions League, nearly qualifying for the knockout rounds with eight points from the group stage. They beat Sevilla at home and whomped Rangers at Ibrox, drew with both Rangers and Stuttgart in Romania, and lost to Sevilla and Stuttgart away. Not a bad run at all.

The Romanian league has an egregiously long winter break; the Round of 32 will take place before the season restarts. Who knows if this will help or hurt Liverpool; it’s been an impossible season to predict so far. I honestly can't tell you much about the opposition or its players, and right now, the team’s probably in a similar situation. They’ve got two months to do their homework.

The fixtures take place February 18 and 25. The full draw for both Round of 32 and Round of 16:

Club Brugge/Valencia v Twente/Werder Bremen
Ajax/Juventus v Fulham/Shakhtar
Lille/Fenerbahce v Liverpool/Unirea
Panathinaikos/Roma v Standard Liege/Salzburg
Hertha Berlin/Benfica v Copenhagen/Marseille
Atletico/Galatasaray v Everton/Sporting
Rubin/Hapoel v Villarreal/Wolfsburg
Hamburg/PSV v Athletic Bilbao/Anderlecht

Back with the preview of tomorrow’s Pompey match in a few hours.


Marlon said...

I don't know how proud we could claim to be of this, but if we win the Europa League this year we will be the most successful club in UEFA Cup/Europa League history.

Jeff said...

Winning it would at least guarantee that we will be playing in Europe next year.

nate said...

Now, I'm not as ballsy as Benitez. I can't/won't guarantee fourth.

But I'm pretty damned sure Liverpool will be in Europe next year no matter what happens in Europa League.

Neel said...

i hate this draw. unirea is a tough team to play against from the 2 games i have seen.

they have a incy-weensy stadium of 7000 capacity. i just hope the pitch isn't crappy and that players don't get injured...