Welcome back to more #SoccerSaturday content! In this weeks’ blog, it is time to talk Europa League.
The Europa League was back in action this week as part 1 of the round of 16 was officially under way as of Thursday March 11th. Lots of great action and what better than to catch it all right here!
Europa League – Round of 16!
So as mentioned, the round of 16 started this past Thursday and although lots of great matches were played, I like to breakdown the 3 that really stuck out in this round.
Manchester United Vs. AC Milan
The match of the full round of 16 that everyone was dying to see! Indeed, many soccer fans across the world wanted to see a battle between United versus Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Unfortunately, due to injury, Zlatan will miss action.
Besides the battle, people were hoping for a lot of action in this match and it quite frankly disappointed many. While for United, it was great to see Amad Diallo get his first goal with United in a big tournament. However, United took their foot off the gas quickly and a last minute effort by AC Milan, ended this game in a tied game at 1 goal each. Hopefully the second leg will be a much better game.
Ajax vs. Young Boys
Another excellent game provided by Europa League round of 16 draw.
The Dutch machine rallied thru the Swiss side, Young Boys. Ajax came into this match and dominated all thru, the Dutch side really was able to play at their level of comfort as they maintained almost 70% of possession of the ball, put more shots on target and created scoring chances that ended with Ajax walking away with a 3-0 victory.
For the Swiss side, they will need lots of improvement mainly in their midfield if they want to rally and have a chance at advancing in the tournament. Otherwise, for the second leg they could count themselves out of contention for the trophy.
Olympiacos vs. Arsenal
The greek side meets once again with its worse nightmare, Arsenal.
Last time these two met, boy what a massive rivalry developed between them! Nothing but physicality and dirty game last time around. In this round of 16 however, the two were highly competitive but only one team walked away with a dominating lead. While possession and passes on target were almost even, this game came down to mentality and drive. The Gunners created far more chances in net and stayed away from playing to foul which was the absolute bullet for Olympiacos and hence the 3-1 loss to Arsenal.
For Olympiacos, next time around will need to bring a type of cerebral game. Creativity and maximizing on chances will be crucial for the greek side. Meanwhile for the Gunners, as long as they can control the pace a bit, the English side has nothing to lose.
Next Weeks’ Outlook!
Thursday March 18th will bring the second part of the round of 16! Some of the matches to certainly keep an eye out for are the following:
Manchester United vs. AC Milan Round 2!
Yes, this will be a match that everyone will need to look out for as it will be set to be highly competitive. The Italian side will need to keep up their game but bring a stronger side of it forward. Meanwhile, United will need to bring their A game and create chances upfront or by the wing-side to exploit the weaknesses of this AC Milan team when it comes to defending the sided attacked.
Rangers vs. Slavia Praha.
Another match to keep a close eye on. Steven Gerrard, Rangers boss has done a phenomenal job with the Scottish side and it would be too early for their story to end. Rangers will need to be hungry and fight for ball possession. Once they have the ball possession, the game is really on their hands.
Meanwhile for Slavia Praha, as long as they can continue to do things right, it will be a matter of capitalizing on chances. Personally, this will be a hell of a rivalry to further develop in this Europa League tournament.
The Europa League is coming to an end very quickly and lots of drama and story lines pending to unfold. A few teams to keep an eye out for are essential the English Premier league sides but also Rangers and Ajax.
Who knows what next week will bring but be ready for a boat load of action to happen as this round comes to its ending.
Lastly, tune into the Yellow Card Podcast Episode 28! The crew there will surely have lots to say about this first part of round of 16 action.
~Diego Galvis (@Diego_TheDJ On Twitter).
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