Arsenal, Chelsea Avoid Big Guns At Europa League Round Of 16

By Editor
Going by the draws on Friday, Arsenal will play Rennes while Chelsea face a tricky tie against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League round of 16. The Blues were part of the first tie drawn out on Friday lunchtime, and will have to travel to Ukraine in the second leg – a 3,000-mile round trip. The Gunners on the other hand will face a Ligue 1 club, Rennes, who beat Real Betis in the round of 32. The Gunners were drawn out first and were initially set to play the first leg of the tie at the Emirates Stadium, however the club said they have agreed with Rennes to flip the tie, with the opening fixture to be played in France.

The first leg will take place on Thursday, March 7, with kick-off at 5.55p.m. UK time at Roazhon Park, where England played Wales in Euro 2016. Arsenal host the return leg at the Emirates on Thursday, March 14, with kick-off at 8p.m. in north London. Chelsea came through their round of 32 tie against Malmo with relative ease, winning 5-1 on aggregate, while Arsenal had to come from behind against BATE Borisov – they lost 1-0 in Ukraine, but won the second leg 3-0 in north London. The draw has been relatively kind to the Premier League sides however, as they avoided the competition’s biggest names including Sevilla, Napoli and Inter Milan.

The two English clubs could have been drawn together, as there are no restrictions on nationalities facing each other at this stage – but an all-English tie was avoided. For Petr Cech, Arsenal’s goalkeeper who retires at the end of this season, this draw is an emotional one – he played for Rennes before moving to English football with Chelsea. The significance of the draw was not lost on Cech, who posted a throwback picture of himself playing for Rennes.

Sevilla, who won the competition three years in a row between 2014 and 2016, face Slavia Prague, while Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will have to wait for a reunion with former club Napoli as they face Red Bull Salzburg. Inter take on Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt, while Valencia – who ended the European dreams of Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic – face Russian club Krasnodar. Dinamo Zagreb play Benfica, while Zenit v Villarreal was the final tie drawn out by former Sevilla and Valencia goalkeeper Andres Palop, who conducted the draw. First leg ties of the EUFA Europa League take place on March 7, 2019. The second leg games take place on March 14, 2019:

Chelsea v Dynamo Kiev
Eintracht Frankfurt v Inter Milan
Dinamo Zagreb v Benfica
Napoli v Red Bull Salzburg
Valencia v Krasnodar
Sevilla v Slavia Prague
Arsenal v Rennes
Zenit v Villarreal

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