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Europa League 2020/21 last 32: Previews and how to watch every first-leg game on BT Sport
The Europa League makes its long awaited return after over two months this week, with five British teams in action.
They join a host of Europe’s most decorated clubs including AC Milan, Napoli and Ajax in a star-studded last 32. All 16 matches will be shown exclusively live on BT Sport on a huge night of action from across Europe.
Read on, or jump to a specific game using the links below, for live streams, previews and details about how to watch on BT Sport.
Man United’s season turned a corner after they dropped out of the Champions League and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be targeting a European run to supplement an unlikely bid for the Premier League crown.
The Red Devils needed to avoid defeat against RB Leipzig to advance to the knockout stages of the premier club competition in December, but a late fightback was not enough as they succumbed to a 3-2 loss in Germany.
The defeat saw them drop into the Europa League where they will face Spanish side Real Sociedad over two legs.
United were due to travel to San Sebastian for the first leg of the last-32 tie but coronavirus restrictions in that country have forced a change, with UEFA announcing that the match will now be played at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium in Turin.
Worryingly for United, they are winless in their last nine European matches against Spanish opponents since a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo in the 2016/17 Europa League, and they will have to be especially wary of star man Mikel Oyarzabal who has returned to contention after recovering from a minor injury.
The 23-year-old forward has scored 14 goals in 28 appearances for club and country this season, as well as creating five assists.
Imanol Alguacil’s side have impressed in La Liga this term and they boast a number of Premier League exports in their squad including former United man Adnan Januzaj, Nacho Monreal and David Silva.
Thursday’s visitors should be in confident mood ahead of the trip to Italy, though. United have lost only one of their last 16 Europa League knockout matches, although the sole defeat came against Sevilla in last season’s competition.
Can United translate promising domestic form to the continent? Or will Sociedad spring a surprise on neutral territory?
Wolfsberg v Tottenham, 5.30pm (KO 5.55pm) on BT Sport 2 HD - Live stream
Tottenham return to European action against Austrian side Wolfsberg who are preparing for their first ever knockout match in major European competition.
Spurs have come off the boil after a strong start to the season under Jose Mourinho who will be desperate to land a trophy in his first full season in charge in north London.
Any hopes of Premier League glory have fallen by the wayside and elimination in the FA Cup means options are limited, although they have a League Cup final against Man City to look forward to in April.
Promisingly for Spurs, who topped Group J on 13 points, Mourinho has won each of his last 12 knockout ties in the Europa League and hasn’t lost an away knockout match in the competition since December 2002.
What’s more, they are unbeaten in all six of their European matches against Austrian sides, winning once and drawing once with LASK in the group stages this season.
They are overwhelming favourites to emerge unscathed against Wolfsberg over two legs, but Ferdinand Feldhofer’s side safely navigated a tough Group K to reach the knockout stages, taking ten points off former UEFA Cup winners Feyenoord and CSKA Moscow in the process.
Victory over Spurs would be a huge scalp for the club who were only promoted to the Austrian Bundesliga in 2012.
They’ve endured a sub-par domestic season so far, but will be eyeing a famous victory in their first ever European tie against English opposition.
Could they do the unthinkable and dump out a Spurs side complete with Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and company? Find out only on BT Sport.
Slavia Prague v Leicester, 5.30pm (KO 5.55pm) on BT Sport ESPN HD - Live stream
Leicester have made no secret about their desire to go deep in the Europa League and their debut season in the competition continues with a visit to Czech champions Slavia Prague.
The Foxes were rewarded for topping Group G containing Braga, Zorya Luhansk and AEK Athens with an intriguing tie against Jindřich Trpišovský side who finished second behind Bayer Leverkusen in Group C.
“I couldn’t ask for any more,” said boss Brendan Rodgers after his side were confirmed as group winners and he’ll be looking to add to the feel-good factor in the East Midlands with a morale-boosting run in Europe.
They will have to improve their form on the road on the continent, though. They have won just one of their last seven away matches in European competition, with the only win coming against AEK Athens in this season’s group stage.
It will be a stern examination against the Czech table-toppers, who have considerable European pedigree of their own. They have been mainstays in Europe since their first appearance in 1974 and gave Chelsea an almighty scare in last season’s quarter-final.
Senegalese forward Abdallah Sima has scored 11 goals in 13 appearances this season and will be a real goal threat in the Czech capital.
For Leicester, who are juggling a push for a top-four finish in the Premier League with a run in Europe, all eyes will be on the talismanic Jamie Vardy who has scored in each of his last three matches in major European competition. No Leicester player has ever scored in four straight games at this level.
Vardy and Leicester will be looking to round off a seminal week in their season, which began with a meeting with Liverpool, with a positive result in Europe.
Benfica v Arsenal, 8pm (KO 8pm) on BT Sport 2 HD - Live stream
In one of the standout ties of the round, Arsenal meet Portuguese giants Benfica for a place in the last 16.
The Gunners scored the most ever goals by an English team in the Europa League group stage, with 20 and eased into the knockout stages with six wins from six over Molde, Rapid Vienna and Dundalk.
They have recovered from a poor start in the Premier League under Mikel Arteta since the turn of the year and should be considered genuine contenders to lift the Europa League trophy this season.
Jorge Jesus’ side were also undefeated in the group stage, but had to settle for second place behind Rangers in a competitive Group D.
The 37-time champions of Portugal, who boast former Premier League players Adel Taarabt and Jan Vertonghen in their ranks, will be looking to influential midfielder Pizzi to unpick Arsenal’s defence.
The 31-year-old has been directly involved in more goals than any other player this season (6 goals, 2 assists) and the last Portuguese player to score more goals in a European campaign was Eusébio in 1970/71.
Arsenal are unbeaten in nine European away games and will be hoping the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka can help them secure an invaluable away win.
Due to Covid issues, the match will be played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, with the second leg set to take place in Athens.
The storied clubs have reached five finals between then without lifting the trophy. Who will be left nurse yet more European heartbreak this season?
Antwerp v Rangers, 7.30pm (KO 8pm) on BT Sport 3 HD - Live stream
A hugely impressive campaign for Rangers under Steven Gerrard continues with a trip to Belgium to face Antwerp.
It appears to be only a matter of time until they seal a first Scottish league title in 10 years. Remarkably, they are still yet to taste defeat in their domestic league or in Europe this season and they are ready to resume proceedings in Europe with one eye on a famous double.
They qualified for the knockout stages with relative ease and they have already defeated Belgian opposition twice this season, beating Standard Liège home and away in Group D.
The Gers have also only lost the first leg of a major European knockout tie once in their last nine fixtures, though this was in the Europa League last 16 last season against Bayer Leverkusen.
Antwerp finished second in Group J behind Tottenham although they proved they shouldn’t be taken lightly with a 1-0 win over Spurs in October.
A domestic table could be beyond them this term with runaway league leaders Club Brugge some distance in front at the summit, but they will be dreaming of continuing their first season back in Europe for a quarter of a century with a famous victory.
Their last match in the knockout stages of a major European competition was a 10-2 aggregate defeat to Newcastle United.
Since the group stage the club have replaced their cup-winning Croatian coach Ivan Leko with legendary former Belgian international Franky Vercauteren, who will be scheming how to defeat the Scottish champions-elect.
Can Rangers pick up where they left off in Europe? Or will they come unstuck in Antwerp?