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UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off draw made - Who could the Hammers face in the round of 16?

   The UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off draw has been made in Switzerland, giving West Ham United a slightly better idea of who they could face in the round of 16.
UEFA Europa League trophy


The UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off draw has been made in Switzerland, giving West Ham United a slightly better idea of who they could face in the round of 16.

The eight teams who finished third in their respective UEFA Champions League groups and the eight who finished second in their UEFA Europa League groups were paired for two-legged ties to be played home and away on Thursday 17 February and Thursday 3 March 2022.

The eight knockout round play-off winners will face the eight UEFA Europa League group winners, - West Ham, Lyon, Monaco, Spartak Moscow, Eintracht Frankfurt, Galatasaray, FK Crvena zvezda and Bayer Leverkusen - in the round of 16, which will again be played over two legs on Thursday 10 and Thursday 17 March 2022.

The draw for the round of 16 will be made on Friday 25 February and will be an open draw. That means, with no other English clubs still involved in the Europa League, we could face any of the eight knockout round play-off winners.

This is what happened at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Monday...

Who is facing who in the knockout round play-off?

The eight clubs who dropped down from the UEFA Champions League will host the first leg on Thursday 25 February, with the second leg being hosted by the eight UEFA Europa League group-stage runners up a week later.

The knockout play-off round draw went as follows:

Sevilla (ESP) v GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)Atalanta (ITA) v Olympiacos (GRE)RB Leipzig (GER) v Real Sociedad (ESP)Barcelona (ESP) v Napoli (ITA)Zenit (RUS) v Real Betis (ESP)Borussia Dortmund (GER) v Rangers (SCO)Sheriff (MDA) v Braga (POR)Porto (POR) v Lazio (ITA)

So, which of our potential opponents have we faced before and which have links to the Hammers?

Who could West Ham United face in the round of 16?

RB Leipzig (GER)

The Germans finished third in Champions League Group A, behind Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, beating the Premier League champions on matchday six.

Coached by 36-year-old Italian Domenico Tedesco, who took charge last week, Leipzig completed their rise to the Bundesliga as recently as 2016, having been founded only in 2009. Their talented squad includes Hungary attacking midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, Sweden midfielder Emil Forsberg and Spain playmaker Dani Olmo.

We have never faced RB Leipzig previously.

Porto (POR)

The Portuguese Primeira Liga runners-up are coached by Sérgio Conceição and finished third in Champions League Group B behind Liverpool and Atlético Madrid.

The 2003 and 2011 winners have a squad that includes former West Ham youngster Toni Martinez and are captained by veteran Portugal defender Pepe.

We have never faced Porto previously.

Borussia Dortmund (GER)

Borussia Dortmund finished third in Champions League Group C behind Ajax and Sporting Lisbon, being edged out by the latter on head-to-head after both clubs won three and lost three.

The 1993 and 2002 runners-up are now coached by German Marco Rose, whose squad is led by Norway centre-forward Erling Haaland and also includes England midfielder Jude Bellingham and Germany internationals Marco Reus, Julian Brandt, Mats Hummels, Emre Can and Mahmod Dahoud.

We faced Dortmund in a post-season tour match at the old Stadion Rote Erde in May 1959, losing 3-1, before going down 5-2 on aggregate in the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals in April 1966. West Ham returned to the Stadion Rote Erde in pre-season in July 1967, losing 4-1.

Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham celebrate

Sheriff (MDA)

Formed in 1997 and based in the capital of Moldova, Tiraspol, Sheriff won their 19th National Division title last season before finishing third in Champions League Group D behind Real Madrid and Inter Milan – beating the former in Spain on matchday two.

Coached by Ukrainian Yuriy Vernydub, Sheriff draw players from across the world for their squad, including the Malian namesake of Wolves winger Adama Traoré.

We have never faced Sheriff previously.

Barcelona (ESP)

The Spanish giants scored just two goals in their six Champions League Group E matches, but still managed to amass seven points to finish third behind Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Now coached by legendary midfielder Xavi, Barcelona’s squad may no longer include Lionel Messi, but it is captained by Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets and contains his fellow internationals Gerard Piqué and Pedri and Netherlands frontman Memphis Depay.

We have never faced Barcelona previously.

Atalanta (ITA)

Atalanta finished third in Champions League Group F after losing at home to Spanish club Villarreal in a matchday six tie delayed by heavy snow.

Coached by Gian Piero Gasperini, the Bergamo-based club has become one of the most entertaining in Europe in recent seasons, led by Colombian forwards Duván Zapata and Luis Muriel. They are captained by UEFA Euro 2020 winner Rafael Tolói.

The Italians visited London Stadium as recently as August 2021, when they were beaten 2-0 by the Hammers in the Betway Cup.

Declan Rice in Betway Cup action

Sevilla (ESP)

Bidding to win the competition for a record seventh time – in their own stadium, to boot – Sevilla finished third in Champions League Group G behind Lille and RB Salzburg.

The Spanish team is coached by former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui and captained by veteran former Manchester City winger Jesús Navas.

Familiar faces in their squad include former Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić, ex-Liverpool forward Suso and former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Erik Lamela.

We have never faced Sevilla previously.

Zenit (RUS)

Russian Premier League champions Zenit hail from the city of St Petersburg.

Coached by former Russia midfielder Sergei Semak, Zenit finished third in Champions League Group H behind Juventus and Chelsea.

The 2008 UEFA Cup winners have no fewer than four Brazilians alongside their home-grown stars, including group-stage standout performers Malcom, Claudinho and Wendel and veteran striker Artem Dzyuba.

We have never faced Zenit previously.

Rangers (SCO)

Scottish champions Rangers finished second in Europa League Group A, eight points behind winners Lyon and a point ahead of Sparta Prague.

Now managed by former player and Netherlands international Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Rangers’ squad includes former West Ham and England striker Jermain Defoe, who is now 39.

In our only previous meeting, West Ham visited Ibrox in August 1979, losing 3-2 to Rangers in the semi-finals of the Tennent Caledonian Cup pre-season tournament.

Jermain Defoe in Rangers colours

Real Sociedad (ESP)

The Europa League Group B runners-up finished three points behind Monaco and a point clear of PSV to secure their passage to the knockout round play-off.

Based in the Basque region of northern Spain, Sociedad finished fifth in La Liga last season under head coach Imanol Alguacil.

Their squad includes current Spain internationals Mikel Oyarzabal, Mikel Merino and Martín Zubimendi, as well as Adnan Januzaj, who David Moyes handed a first-team debut at Manchester United.

We have never faced Sociedad previously.

Napoli (ITA)

The Italians were edged into second place in Europa League Group C by Spartak Moscow on head-to-head record, but did knock Leicester City out of the competition. They won the UEFA Cup in 1989.

Coached by Luciano Spalletti, Napoli’s squad includes Belgium forward Dries Mertens, Italy striker Lorenzo Insigne and Senegal centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly.

The only previous meeting between the two was a Bobby Moore Cup tie at the Boleyn Ground in August 2009, which the Serie A club won 1-0.

Olympiacos (GRE)

The Greek Super League champions finished second in Europa League Group D, winning three and losing three, behind German side Eintracht Frankfurt.

Coached by Pedro Martins, Olympiacos have a large and cosmopolitan squad that includes veteran Morocco striker Youssef El-Arabi, who scored three goals in the group-stage.

West Ham faced Olympiacos in the European Cup Winners’ Cup first round in 1965/66, winning 4-0 at the Boleyn Ground and drawing 2-2 in Athens. The Greeks later visited the Boleyn Ground for a pre-season match in August 2006 which ended 1-1.

Arthur Masuaku joined West Ham from Olympiacos in summer 2016.

Olympiacos in London in 1965

Lazio (ITA)

Coached by former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, Lazio finished second in Europa League Group E, despite winning just two of their six group-stage ties, behind Galatasaray and ahead of Marseille and Lokomotiv Moscow.

The Rome-based team have former West Ham winger Felipe Anderson in their squad, along with a host of other recognisable players, including captain and Italy international forward Ciro Immobile, Serbia midfielder Sergej Milinković-Savić and Albania No1 Thomas Strakosha, who recently faced England in FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Historically, of course, Hammers hero Paolo Di Canio played for Lazio at the start and end of his career. We have faced Lazio once previously, losing 2-0 in Lebring, Austria, in a pre-season match in August 2007. 

Braga (POR)

Portuguese club Braga finished second in Europa League Group F behind Serbians FK Crvena zvezda.

Coached by former Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City manager Carlos Carvalhal, Braga have a squad comprising mostly Portuguese and Brazilian players, including Lucas Piazon, who featured for Chelsea against West Ham in the FA Youth Cup back in 2012!

We have faced Braga twice previously. The first was a 1-1 pre-season draw at the Estadio Municipal in August 2012, with Winston Reid on target for the Hammers, and the second a 1-0 Torneio Do Guadiana defeat a year later in Portimão.

Real Betis (ESP)

The Spaniards, who finished as runners-up to Bayer Leverkusen in Europa League Group G, are led by former West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini.

The Chilean arrived in east London in May 2018 after winning the Premier League title with Manchester United four years previously. He took charge of 64 West Ham matches, guiding the Club to tenth in his first season, but a poor run of form saw him depart in late December 2019.

Of the current squad, Issa Diop, Łukasz Fabiański, Ryan Fredericks, Andriy Yarmolenko, Pablo Fornals and David Martin were signed during Pellegrini’s reign.

Based in the southern city of Seville, Betis are captained by veteran winger Joaquín and have a talented squad which includes France forward Nabil Fekir and Portugal midfielder William Carvalho.

We have faced Betis just once previously, in the pre-season Real Mallorca Tournament in August 1977, drawing 0-0 before losing 5-6 on penalties.

Manuel Pellegrini is now in charge of Real Betis

Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

West Ham will need no introduction to the Europa League Group H runners-up, who they have already faced twice in the group-stage.

The Hammers defeated the Croatian double winners 2-0 in Zagreb on matchday one, before a youthful side were beaten 1-0 at London Stadium on matchday six, by which time David Moyes’ men had secured top spot and progress to the round of 16.

Dinamo have a number of current Croatia internationals in their squad, including London Stadium matchwinner Mislav Oršić, talented playmaker Luka Ivanušec and goalkeeper Dominik Livaković.

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