Europa League: Quick-Fire Tips Round of 16 First Leg Preview


There were no real big shocks in the round of 32 as most of the big guns made it through to the next round – with the exception of Athletic Bilbao who were beaten over two legs by APOEL. England’s last representative in the competition, Manchester United, will face a tricky away tie at FC Rostov while Gent and Genk clash in an all Belgian affair.

The pick of the round’s ties sees Lyon welcome a strong Roma side to the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in what should be an absolute cracker of a game. Strap yourselves in football fans, this is shaping up to be a cracking round!

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APOEL 33/20 | Draw 43/20 | Anderlecht 17/10
APOEL will be full of confidence heading into this match following their 4-3 aggregate win over Athletic Bilbao in the previous round. They stand an excellent chance of getting through to the quarter-finals having been drawn against Anderlecht. If they are to get the result, however, they’ll need to do it without top scorer, Pieros Sotiriou, who misses the first leg of the match through suspension.

There’s not really much to say about Anderlecht. They play in a much stronger league, their squad is light-years ahead of APOEL’s and all of their best players are available for this clash. It should be a fairly straight-forward victory for the Belgians, although, that’s what Bilbao would have thought.

Back Anderlecht here at 17/10 – they have far more experience in the latter stages of major tournaments and should prove a bridge too far for the tenacious Cypriots.  

FC Rostov 36/10 | Draw 24/10 | Manchester United 8/10
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Copenhagen 14/10 | Draw 2/1 | Ajax 2/1
FC Copenhagen have perhaps surprisingly been priced up as favourites in this match. The Danes ousted Ludogorets in the round of 32, winning 2-1 on aggregate following a 0-0 draw in the second leg. Ajax are definitely a team on the up at the moment, with the club an absolute hotbed of talent. The young squad will be without the services of centre-half partners, Jairo Riedewald and Nick Viergever who are both out with injury.

I like the look of Ajax here, although, the fact that they’re away from home worries me a bit. As such, I’ll be backing the Dutch giants on the double chance at 5/10 – get on!

Gent 17/20 | Draw 24/10 | Genk 31/10
Next we head off to Belgium for a clash between Gent and Genk. Both sides have under-performed horribly in the Belgian First Division A this season, most likely because of their commitments in European competition. That said, I think Genk will be more confident coming into this game following their 2-1 away win over Brugge.

Their away league form hasn’t been the greatest, but I’ll be taking Genk on the win/draw here at 17/20. 

Olympiakos 14/10 | Draw 21/10 | Besiktas 2/1
This should be a cracking tie over two legs. If the football isn’t anything to write home about, but both sets of partisan fans should provide a cracking backdrop to this fixture. Olympiakos will come into this tie as favourites having dumped Turkish opposition out of the last round, beating Osmanlispor 3-0 on aggregate.

Although the Greek side saw off Turkish opposition in the last round, Besiktas are a massive step up from Osmanlispor. Back the Turks to win here at a tasty 2/1.

Lyon 29/20 | Draw 47/20 | Roma 7/14
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Schalke 23/20 | Draw 23/10 | Borussia Monchengladbach 23/10
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Celta Vigo 6/10 | Draw 26/10 | Krasnodar 7/2 
Celta got lucky having drawn the Russian minnows in such an advanced stage of the competition. They were excellent last time out, overturning a 1-0 deficit to beat Shakhtar over two legs. The only worry for the Spaniards will be the 5-0 hammering that they received at the hands of Barcelona on Saturday.

Even so, the Russians are going to have to work overtime to counter Celta’s slick interplay – a trademark of the Spanish topflight.

Celta all day here for me. The Spanish side are superior in every department, showing their quality as they dumped a strong Shakhtar team out of this competition in the last round.  

Written by Jason Dewey for

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