Now that we have the UEFA Europa League Draw for the Round of 32, we can see who the English teams still in it will be playing. Also, when are the Europa League games, and will we have tickets for the games in England?
Briefly: What is the Europa League?
UEFA is the European region of FIFA, the sport’s governing body worldwide. Each region has country-vs-country competitions as well as club competitions, and in Europe the main one for clubs is the Champions League. (Related: Here is this season’s Round of 16 UEFA Champions League draw. The Europa League, which has existed in various forms for decades, is the No. 2 club competition.
It draws in clubs from all over Europe who didn’t win their domestic leagues or who won cup competitions like, in England, the FA Cup. Also, some teams who start out in the Champions League but don’t advance may drop into the Europa League.
Games start in the summer with qualifying rounds, then move on to a group stage, from which a total of 32 teams advance to the first knockout round. Each round here is two games, one at each ground, with total goals determining the winner and “away goals” the first tiebreaker.
For more, read our post “What is the Europa League?”
When are the Round of 32 Europa League Games?
Games will be played on two Thursday evenings: February 18 and February 25. All the English teams remaining in the competition will be at home in their second game.
The draw for the Round of 16 will then be held on February 26, with those matches being played March 11 and 18.
English Clubs Still in the Europa League Draw
Leicester City (for finishing 5th last season in the Premier League), Tottenham (6th) and Arsenal (FA Cup winners) all started out in the Europa League and have made it to the Round of 32. Manchester United started in the Champions League but have now dropped into the Europa League. All are seeded so will host their second-leg games.
Leicester City Europa League Draw
The Foxes drew Slavia Prague, champions of the Czech league, who beat Bayer Leverkusen in the group stage and won two games against Nice of France. Leicester City has only played in Europe four times before before, most recently making the Champions League quarterfinals in 2017 after famously winning the Premier League in 2016.
Arsenal Europa League Draw
If you were looking for a “used to be great” matchup, this is the one: Arsenal, who have 13 league titles and 16 cups in their pantry, have also won this competition before, in 1994 when it was called the Cup Winners’ Cup. Their opponents are Benfica from Lisbon, Portugal, one of that country’s “big three” who have never been relegated; the others are Porto and Sporting. The Eagles, as they are known, have won the Champions League (which used to be called the European Cup) twice, both in the 1960s when they had the legendary Ballon d’Or-winner Eusebio.
Tottenham Europa League Draw
Spurs, who have won versions of this competition three times (1963, 1972 and 1984) and were the first English club to hoist European silverware, got a fairly easy draw on paper. They will play Wolfsberger, an Austrian club who finished third in that country last season and will be making their first appearance in European knockout competition. In fact, because of Covid, they can’t even play at their home ground!
Note that Spurs’ home game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be on February 24, not February 25; this is because London police don’t want Arsenal and Tottenham at home on the same night!
Manchester United Europa League Draw
United, who along with Arsenal are the “drama boys” of England at the moment with under-pressure managers and under-performing teams, were bounced out of the Champions League and now arrive here. They have drawn Real Sociedad of Spain, a club from the Basque country who contest a massive rivalry with Athletic Bilbao. Like Bilbao, they used to have a policy of only using Basque players, but unlike their rivals, they have gone away from that.
This year, Real Sociedad are having a strong season and as of this writing are atop the Spanish La Liga. Among their players are two who might be recognizable to Premier League watchers: David Silva, formerly of Man City, and Adnan Januzaj, formerly of Man U.
Tickets to English Europa League Games
Groundhopper Soccer Guides typically offers hospitality packages at Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United. It remains to be seen what the offerings will be in February, but if you want to find out more and be on our “Europa League tickets list,” just fill out the form below, and we will be in touch.