Monday, December 13, 2021

Premier League in Europe

Champions League Draw

Monday’s initial draw was flawed due to technical issues, nullified by UEFA, and redone a short time later. The final pairings represent a mixed bag for Premier League clubs. Chelsea was the big winner as Lille will be their opponent, the French side being the least challenging of the four possible clubs who Chelsea could have faced. Neutrals will be disappointed that a Manchester United versus PSG matchup, which would have pitted Ronaldo versus Messi, was nullified after the flawed first draw attempt. Ronaldo will instead face some other familiar faces in a matchup with Atletico Madrid. The footballing legend has four career hat tricks against his former La Liga rival. As so often seems the case, Manchester City draws a relatively soft opponent in Sporting Lisbon. Liverpool, one of the tournament favorites, will be challenged in the next round by current Serie A leader Inter Milan. First legs will be played in mid-February. 

Europa and Conference League Draw

West Ham essentially gets a bye as group winner as the next Europa League round is a playoff between other Europa group play qualifiers and those descending from the Champions League to determine the Europa League Round of 16. Of note in the upcoming Europa League playoff round will be a pairing of Barcelona, bounced from the Champions League, and a Napoli side which placed second in its Europa League group. The Europa Conference League draw will see Leicester, moving down after a disappointing Europa League exit, playing Danish side Randers in the playoff round to determine the third-tier tournament’s Round of 16 participants. Should Tottenham Hotspur defeat Vitesse in their postponed Europa Conference League group stage match, Antonio Conte’s boys will face Austrian side Rapid Wien in the next playoff round. 

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