Liverpool and Tottenham on the drift after testing Europa League last 32 draw
The draw for the last-32 and last-sixteen stages of the Europa League took place in Nyon on Thursday afternoon and there were mixed fortunes for the remaining British hopefuls in the competition. Liverpool and Tottenham were both handed tough assignments, although there was slightly better news for Chelsea and Newcastle.
Chelsea's were clipped in by bookmakers after they drew Sparta Prague in the last-32 and they are now 7/1 second favourites with PaddyPower. Rafa Benitez will be very pleased with the draw as it involves a short trip to the Czech Republic, although a sterner test may lie in wait in the last-sixteen as they will meet the winner of the Ajax v Steaua Bucharest tie.
Like Chelsea, Ajax have entered this competition after failing to qualify from the Champions League group stages but the Dutch champions have shown enough quality to demand respect. They thumped Man City at home and drew with them at the Etihad during their Champions League group matches and they are 20/1 to win the Europa League, with the final due to be played at their Amsterdam Arena home in May.
One of the other British hopefuls, Newcastle, face more of a jaunt travel-wise after they were drawn with Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv. Metalist topped their group during qualifying but Newcastle, who are 33/1 to win the Europa League, will expect to beat them and they would then have to face either big spending Russians Anzhi or German side Hannover.
The draw was less kind to the two other English clubs and Liverpool's odds of winning the tournament were eased out from 14/1 to 16/1. Brendan Rodgers' side's reward for wining Group A of this competition is a tough-looking tie against 2008 Europa League champions Zenit St Petersburg. Zenit are one of the stronger teams remaining after they dropped out of the Champions League and they are 16/1 in the outright betting, with the winner set to take on the victor of the clash between Basel, who also dropped out of the Champions League, and Ukrainian side Dnipro.
Tottenham (14/1) saw their hopes of winning the tournament take a hit after they suffered possibly the toughest draw of all the British sides. Andre Villas-Boas's team, who qualified from Group J unbeaten, will come up against joint-French Ligue 1 leaders Lyon. The match offers Spurs' keeper Hugo Lloris a chance to face his former employers and he will know what a tough task Tottenham face, particularly as this is the first time in nine years that Lyon haven't still been in the Champions League at this stage.
If Spurs get past Lyon then they may get the chance to recreate their famous Champions League clashes of a few years ago with Inter Milan. Gareth Bale rose to prominence against Inter two years ago and the Italian giants are 12/1 to win the competition outright in the latest betting with paddypower, although they must first get past Romania's Cluj.
Elsewhere, defending champions Atletico Madrid remain 11/2 favourites after they drew Rubin Kazan in the last-32 and they will come up against Levante or Olympiakos in the last-sixteen. Other stand-out last-32 ties include Bayer Leverkusen v Benfica, with the winner going on to face Dynamo Kiev or Bordeaux, while Napoli take on Viktoria Plzen and Lazio meet Borussia Monchengladbach.
Latest Europa League Odds
11/2 Atletico Madrid
12/1 Inter Milan
12/1 Anzhi Makhachkala
18/1 Bayer Leverkusen
20/1 Zenit St Petersburg
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com.
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