This may be the year for the Europa League. Some good teams have found themselves there, and even in the Round of 32 there promises to be some games that even Champions League can’t compete with. Rather than give my predictions on every single game, today I am just gonna go through and talk about the best. Let’s not waste any more time!
Borussia Dortmund vs. FC Porto
Most people thought Dortmund would be a shoo-in to win the Europa League this year, as they are normally fierce Champions League competitors. However, they finished second in their group, and now may pay the price by drawing another Champions League team, Porto. The Portuguese club is still feeling the loss of striker Jackson Martinez, and after finishing third in their CL group, they now find themselves with a hard game. Either team could win this one, it really depends on who tries to win. If Dortmund field a full strength squad they should sweep it, but if they don’t and Porto do than expect Porto to go through.
ACF Fiorentina vs. Tottenham Hotspurs
Two clubs who have Europa League experience, this could actually end up being a pretty low key match. As both are flying high in their domestic leagues and may get Champions League, neither may try too hard. Still, player like Harry Kane and Erik Lamela could tip this one for Spurs if they want to. Since Tottenham could finish top four this season, I would guess they won’t try very hard in the Europa League, while Fiorentina will put more effort. This round goes to Fiorentina
FC Augsburg vs. Liverpool FC
Any other time and I would give this one to Liverpool without another thought. However, Augsburg have been graced with inform striker Raul Bobadilla, who single-handedly tore teams apart in the group stage. With Liverpol still getting used to new manager Jurgen Klopp, and Augsburg in such good form, this is another that will be tight. Maybe the closet of all the matches, I couldn’t decide who I thought was going to win. Honestly, it depends on whether Bobadilla’s form continues into the new year, and hat his fitness stays high. Still don’ miss this game, though.
Galatasaray S.K. vs. SS Lazio
Maybe not as hyped up as some of the other games, this one still should be very exciting. Galatasaray are a strong side who should probably still be in the Champions League, and Lazio have some top players like Klose and Candreva. This one will have some insane fans, which is something for all us outsiders to laugh about, but the real excitement will be on the pitch. Lazio almost won the Europa League last year, so if I had to hedge my bets I would go with them, but Galatasaray will probably try to save some face by winning at least one round. Whoever wins, this one will be more exciting than most make it out to be.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. FC Schalke 04
The Ukrainian Champions challenge one of Germany’s top teams. Shakhtar, a team well known as a feeder club, as still feeling the los of Douglas Costa to Bayern Munich. Schalke also lost a key winger, as Julian Draxler joined Wolfsburg. Still, players like Howedes and Huntelaar will be hungry for trophies, so expect an almost full strength squad to show up from both of them. My guess? Schalke go into the next round.
Sporting CP vs. Bayer Leverkusan
While Sporting are by no means the best club in the competition, they are highly entertaining, and could upset here. Leverkusan, despite dropping out of the Champions League, have a team of inform player like Karim Bellarabi, Hakan Calhanoglu and especially Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Chicharito, who has hit a ridiculous amount of goals recently, will be looking to add o his European tally, and with Stefan Kiessling finding his feet, Leverkusan should dominate this. But “shoulds” aren’t always the truth, and they need to watch the upset. I will be watching this game just to see two exciting teams square off in a match that, even if it is onesided, will be entertaining.
SSC Napoli vs. Villareal CF
Another case of two teams flying in their domestic leagues, Villareal and Napoli will be a must-watch. Napoli must be favorites, with Lorenzo Insigne, Marik Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain in their very best form, but Villareal will be looking to upset. he man o lead that upset will be Robeto Soldado, who is looking really good after a failed stint with Tottenham in England. Napoli may also focus on the league to qualify for Champions League, while Villareal ma be force to try to win the Europa League to get qualification. That will only make the game more level, and more exciting.
I hope you guys enjoyed my list of must-watch games. This year’s Europa League may be better than ever, so don’t forget to watch. Also feel free to leave your predictions in the comments, and leave a like on this post if you did enjoy. Also tell me how you like my new system of longer posts on Tuesdays and Fridays, rather than shorter ones everyday. Have a good day!