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Europa League – Early Round of 16 Preview

The 2022/23 Europa League campaign will resume in February next year with the knock-out play-off round. The latest predictions favour Spanish giants Barcelona and Premier League leaders Arsenal, but with so many rounds to go, there’s still plenty of hurdles to cross.

The ties will be played between the second-placed group stage teams and clubs that have dropped down from the Champions League (third in their respective groups). The first and second legs will be contested on February 16 and February 23 respectively, and you can watch all Europa League games online.

Here are key three games to watch

Barcelona vs Manchester United

Barcelona and United have met each other on 10 occasions in the Champions League. The Red Devils’ most memorable moment was the victory in the 2008 semi-final before they went on to beat Chelsea on penalties. However, Barcelona avenged the result by beating them in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals.

The La Liga giants also got the better of United in the 2019 quarter-final with a 4-0 aggregate win. This will be their first-ever meetings in the Europa League and United will be aiming to end the four-match winless streak. Barcelona are no longer unbeatable but United may have to nullify Robert Lewandowski’s threat to come on top.

Red Bull Salzburg vs Roma

Salzburg have built their reputation over the past few years with their ability to develop talents into potential world beaters. The Austrian outfit can’t be underestimated as a result but they will come up against a proven winner in Jose Mourinho, who managed Roma to glory in the inaugural Europa Conference League season last term.

The Europa League presents a much difficult challenge for Roma compared to the Conference League but the Giallorossi are one of those fancied to reach the last eight at least. They possess a strong defensive record which could be key to making progress in the competition.

PSV Eindhoven vs Sevilla

PSV had an impressive Europa League group stage campaign and they made Arsenal sweat to secure the top position. Cody Gakpo was superb for them throughout the group phase but he is no longer with them after securing a high-profile move to Liverpool.

The Dutch outfit still have plenty of top-class talents such as Xavi Simons and Noni Madueke but Gakpo has left a huge void in their attack. This could play into Sevilla’s favour. The La Liga outfit have been dreadful in La Liga where they lie 18th but they are perennial Europa League winners, having won the title on a record six occasions – the last of which came in 2020.

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