UEFA Europa League draw: Manchester United face Real Betis, Arsenal get Sporting, Juventus draw Freiburg

The UEFA Europa League and Europa Conference League round of 16 draws took place on Friday with some giants names involved in the UEL as Juventus landed on Freiburg, Arsenal were paired with Sporting CP, and Manchester United got Real Betis.

Elsewhere, AS Roma got Real Sociedad, and Shakhtar Donetsk were drawn against Feyenoord while German surprise package Union Berlin come up against their Belgian namesakes Union SG.

Meanwhile, serial UEL winners Sevilla got Turkish giants Fenerbahce and Bayer Leverkusen landed Ferencvaros as part of a draw which threw up some intriguing matchups with an obvious standout.

We were always going to be hard pressed to beat the titanic pairing of United and Barcelona in the knockout round playoff, but this draw does tee up the possibility of some epic clashes from the quarterfinals onwards.

Our picks from the bunch.

Sporting vs. Arsenal

This one feels like a UEFA Champions League clash taking place in the Europa League much like United vs. Barca was in the previous round. Domestic considerations could lead the Gunners to prioritize the Premier League which could open them up to a potential shock against the Portuguese giants. Equally, Tottenham Hotspur already faced Sporting earlier this season which should give Mikel Arteta and his side a clear idea of how to combat them.

Roma vs. Real Sociedad

This one is perhaps the biggest potential shock exit given that both teams are fairly high profile. Jose Mourinho’s men dumped out a very good Red Bull Salzburg side while Sociedad finished ahead of United in Group E on goal difference after Ten Hag suffered a few early teething problems. This is continental soccer at its eclectic best and a contender for arguably the most fascinating matchup of the lot here.

Manchester United vs. Betis

Erik ten Hag has stunned many with how swiftly he is turning things around at Old Trafford and Red Devils fans will be in dreamland after they beat Barca ahead of the EFL Cup final. They will also remember Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini from his time with rivals City and although United will be considered favorites against the vibrant Spanish outfit given their recent revival, Los Beticos can go toe-to-toe with some of Europe’s best on their day. This will be a carnival opportunity for their loyal supporters who will be behind their team home and away hoping for another famous European night.


The Union derby

This one is fascinating given that both are relative newcomers at this stage and quite recent success stories from their respective domestic leagues. Berlin saw off European giants Ajax in a comprehensive second-leg display while Saint-Gilloise topped Group D ahead of them which adds to the sense of this being something of a derby. As if that was not curious enough ahead of this two-legged affair, each side beat the other 1-0 away from home which makes it too close to call.

Juventus vs. Freiburg

Another Bundesliga side punching above its weight, cult favorite Christian Streich’s men finished top of Group G ahead of FC Nantes who the Italians have since disposed of. Angel Di Maria rolled back the years for Juve in France, but Freiburg will be a tougher nut to crack given that they were unbeaten through the group stage. A black and white clash which mixes two totally different styles of the perennial underdogs up against the ailing continental giant — this one is fascinating on so many levels.

Full Europa League draw

First legs will take place on Mar. 9 with the return legs the following week on Mar. 16.

  • Union Berlin vs. Union Saint-Gilloise
  • Sevilla vs. Fenerbahce
  • Juventus vs. Freiburg
  • Bayer Leverkusen vs. Ferencvaros
  • Sporting CP vs. Arsenal
  • Manchester United vs. Real Betis
  • AS Roma vs. Real Sociedad
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Feyenoord

Full Europa Conference League draw

First legs will take place on Mar. 9 with the return legs the following week on Mar. 16.

  • AEK Larnaca vs. West Ham United
  • Fiorentina vs. Sivasspor
  • Lazio vs. AZ Alkmaar
  • Lech vs. Djurgarden
  • Basel vs. Slovan Bratislava
  • Sheriff vs. OGC Nice
  • Anderlecht vs. Villarreal
  • Gent vs. Istanbul Basaksehir

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