Rennes v Arsenal
Arsenal will be making a trip to Roazhon Park to take on Ligue 1 side Rennes in the first leg of their round of 16 clash of the Europa League. The hosts encountered a little bit of struggle in the journey to securing their place in the last-16. It was actually made possible when they defeated Real Betis in the previous stage. However, they will be put to a much tougher test when they face Premier League outfit Arsenal. Fortunately for Rennes, the Gunners aren’t overly impressive on the road.
Unai Emery and his men will be looking to bounce back and prove themselves after slipping out of the top four in the Premier League standings. The Gunners are off the back of a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the North London derby over the weekend.
Arsenal will host Manchester United on Sunday in a crucial match which could decide their destiny in the English top flight. But first, they have to secure a victory against the French side in the first leg of their last-16 tie. A win could be possible for the hosts especially with Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the team.
On the other hand, Rennes will enter this match in a seemingly confident mood. They got off to a poor start to their group stage campaign with three losses in four opening fixtures. They were able to keep two clean sheet victories which secured their spot in the knockout stages. The French side looked like a very good attacking team as evident in their thrashing of Real Betis which further strengthened their claim to a place in the last-16.
Furthermore, they recently progressed to the Coupe de France semifinal. They are also undefeated in their previous 12 matches at home in all competitions. Both teams are doing well this season and will be looking forward to best one another on Thursday.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Inter Milan
Eintracht Frankfurt will host Inter Milan in the first leg of their round of 16 Europa League showdown on Thursday. These two former Europa League champions have never encountered each other in a competitive fixture in their history which makes this match more thrilling.
Both sides are in decent forms but the German squad are the favourites to come out as winners. Frankfurt impressively cruised past Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 32 tie, while Inter Milan thrashed Rapid Wien on a 5-2 aggregated score.
The hosts reveled in a remarkable shape in the group stages where they scored a massive 18 points from six matches. On Thursday, Adi Hutter’s men will be looking for another favourable result when they face Serie A side Inter Milan.
Adi Hutter and his men will definitely be confident in facing their opponents on Thursday following their 4-1 demolition of Shakhtar in the reverse fixture. Furthermore, they delivered a series of outstanding performances at home during the group stages. They didn’t have it completely easy though. They also went up against the likes of Lazio and Marseille in the Group H. Apart from this, they displayed a splendid performance in the competition, coming out victorious in 8 and drawing one in their previous 9 Europa League fixtures in front of their home crowd.
While Frankfurt easily eased past Shakhtar in the previous round, Inter Milan encountered a bit of a struggle when they won against Rapid Wien. They eventually came out as winners on a 5-0 aggregated win. However, their performance in that match wasn’t entirely convincing.
Luciano Spalletti’s men have been having some problems in terms of their defence lately. They are also having a hard time playing away from home too. To make matters worse, they will be facing a side like Eintracht Frankfurt who are performing very well at home.
Napoli v Red Bull Salzburg
Serie A side Napoli and Austrian Bundesliga outfit Red Bull Salzburg will take on each other in one of the most interesting ties of the last-16 in the Europa League. Both teams are doing remarkably well in their respective domestic leagues. The hosts are currently seated at the second spot in the Serie A standings, while Salzburg sit at the top of the table. However, taking into consideration the current form of both teams in the competition in recent weeks, Napoli are the heavy favourites to come out as winners.
Apart from having a fantastic record at home, Napoli managed to win three of their previous give fixtures and kept clean sheets in four of their past six across all competitions. Furthermore, the Blues overpowered Zurich in the round of 32, claiming a 5-1 aggregated victory. Despite losing to Juventus in the Serie A competition, Napoli will come into this match looking remarkably well.
The Blues were actually able to display a really good performance against the Cristiano Ronaldo-led side over the weekend. Carlo Ancelotti and his men aren’t too far away from Juventus in claiming the Serie A title. With this considered, it shouldn’t be too hard for them to conquer Salzburg on Thursday.
Red Bull Salzburg, on the other hand, definitely showed great strength in the competition especially in the previous years. This season, the Bulls definitely enjoyed a remarkable run in the group stages. However, facing a side like Napoli will definitely be challenging for Marco Rose’s men.
Two of their previous three matches on the road ended in disappointing losses which is nerve-wracking prior to their trip to Italy.
Both teams have lethal attacking line-ups though, and both will definitely be looking to prove themselves mighty when they take on each other for the first time.
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