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The Europa League knockout round play-offs: preview of the second legs | UEFA Europa League

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The Europa League knockout round play-offs: preview of the second legs |  UEFA Europa League

Milan, Benfica, Galatasaray, Sporting and Qarabağ go into the second leg with a win, the other three games ended in a draw. Here is a look at the upcoming duels

How do the knockout round play-offs work?

16 teams take part in the Europa League play-offs in the knockout round: the eight runners-up in the Europa League group phase and the eight third-place teams in the UEFA Champions League group phase.

The respective games will be played in a two-leg format. The second leg will take place on Thursday, February 22nd. As was the case last season, the away goals rule does not apply. The eight winners will take part in the round of 16 draw on Friday 23 February, while the eight losers from the knockout round play-offs will no longer be involved in the 2023/24 European competition.

Thursday, February 22nd

6:45 p.m.: Rennes – Milan (first leg: 0:3)

Two goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and a goal after a wonderful combination between Theo Hernández and Rafael Leão ensure that the Rossoneri can travel to France relatively relaxed. But Rennes also had their opportunities in the first leg, but didn’t use them as decisively as Milan.

That’s why Rennes defender Arthur Theate correctly recognized: “Milan didn’t have the whole game under control by any means, but they were simply better in the key moments. But the duel isn’t over yet, anything can happen at home.”

Highlights: Milan – Rennes 3:0 Europa League Predictor spielen!

6:45 p.m.: Freiburg – Lens (first leg: 0-0)

Lens coach Franck Haise was not happy with his team’s performance after the goalless first leg against Breisgauer because “some of our players didn’t reach the level we would have liked,” said the coach. “But we still believe in ourselves,” explained Lens defender Kevin Danso, who put in a lot of effort to prevent the guests’ best chance from Maximilian Eggestein.

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Christian Streich traveled to France with three Bundesliga defeats in a row and left his top scorers Vincenzo Grifo (nine competitive goals this season, including four in the Europa League) and Michael Gregoritsch (three in the Europa League) on the bench. Despite the good result, Streich wasn’t entirely satisfied: “Of course you have to score at least one, if not two goals from these chances. Now it’s 0-0, that’s a shame. If we had won, Lens would have been under extreme pressure next week.” said Streich.

Highlights: Lens – Freiburg 0:0

6:45 p.m.: Toulouse – Benfica (first leg: 1:2)

A last-minute penalty goal from Ángel Di María decided the first leg in favor of the Portuguese, but they now have to dress warmly in France. It certainly helps that many Benfica fans are expected at the stadium thanks to the strong Portuguese community in the Toulouse area.

“Benfica is a big team,” Toulouse coach Carles Martínez Novell praised the opponent, but is relying on his team in the second leg. “I’m expecting a very similar game, hopefully with more chances for us. This duel is far from decided, we’re only halfway through.”

Highlights: Benfica – Toulouse 2:1

18:45: Karabakh – Braga (Hinspiel: 4:2)

After the first leg win in Portugal, Qarabağ is on the verge of reaching their first European Cup round of 16 for the first time. Coach Gurban Gurbanov’s team showed furious performances against the extremely strong Portuguese team and literally took the Estádio Municipal de Braga by storm. Abdellah Zoubir scored twice, Marko Janković and Juninho once each. It is rather questionable whether Braga can now take revenge on the strong Azerbaijanis at home, as Qarabağ has only lost two of its last 26 European home games.

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Highlights: Braga – Karabakh 2:4

Who is already in the round of 16?

Atalanta (ITA)
Brighton (ENG)
Leverkusen (GER)
Liverpool (ENG)
Rangers (SCO)
Slavia Prague (CZE)
Villarreal (ESP)
West Ham (ENG)

9:00 p.m.: Roma – Feyenoord (first leg: 1-1)

Both teams had plenty of chances to win, but on the Dutch side, German goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther stood out several times, while on the other side, Luka Ivanušec failed to score.

The two teams have met six times in the last nine years, the last time Roma only prevailed after extra time in the quarter-finals. Let’s see whether the Dutch can take revenge for this.

Highlights: Feyenoord – Roma 1:1

21:00: Sporting CP – Young Boys (Hinspiel: 3:1)

Thanks to the dangerous Viktor Gyökeres and the creative Marcus Edwards, the guests from Portugal took a big step towards the round of 16 in Bern.

The Young Boys barely found their game and were only allowed to celebrate a goal from Filip Ugrinic, but showed far too many gaps, especially in defense, to be able to keep up seriously, and the red card for Mohamed Ali Camara was probably YB’s job hardly make it easier.

Highlights: Young Boys – Sporting CP 1:3

9:00 p.m.: Sparta Praha – Galatasaray (first leg: 2:3)

After the dramatic first leg win, the focus of Galatasaray coach Okan Buruk’s praise was less on match winner Mauro Icardi or goalscorer Dries Mertens, but on veteran goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. The goalkeeper from Uruguay repeatedly prevented goals from the Czechs, who often charged at him alone.

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If we can only hope that the second leg in Prague is as spectacular as the first leg in Istanbul, then the spectators will have at least 90 thrilling minutes ahead of them.

Highlights: Galatasaray – Sparta Prague 3:2

9:00 p.m.: Marseille – Shakhtar Donetsk (first leg: 2-2)

Should Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also score in the second leg, he would be the top scorer in the history of this competition. In the first leg, he drew level with the previous leader, Radamel Falcao, with his 30th goal. But it would probably be more important for the man from Gabon to advance against strong Ukrainians, who were able to make up for a deficit twice in Hamburg.

Shakhtar coach Marino Pušić was also satisfied, especially since his team has not played a competitive game in the UEFA Champions League since the 3-5 defeat in Porto 64 days ago. “We showed character and showed courageous offensive football,” said the coach. “I think we deserved a better result, but that’s just how football is sometimes.”

Highlights: Shakhtar Donetsk – Marseille 2:2

Where will the UEFA Europa League final take place in 2024?

©Getty Images

The 2023/24 UEFA Europa League final will be played on May 22, 2024 at the Dublin Arena in the Republic of Ireland.

With a capacity of over 50,000 spectators, the Dublin Arena is home to the Republic of Ireland national football team and the Irish rugby union team. The stadium, which opened in 2010, will host the UEFA Europa League final for the second time, after Porto beat Braga in the all-Portuguese final in 2011 thanks to a goal from Radamel Falcao.

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