Tottenham’s win over Panathinaikos ensured their runners-up spot in Group J and qualification as one of 32 clubs for the Europa League knock-out stages which will take place on February. The competition will have the 24 teams who progressed through the Europa League Group stage plus the 8 teams who finished in third place in the Champions League groups.
Andre Villas-Boas expressed his views on the clubs dropping down from the Champions League competition after the Panathinaikos match.
“You can’t give a bonus to teams who have failed, it’s extremely unfair. I have said this in UEFA meetings before.”
By finishing second to Lazio in their group, Tottenham will miss out on being seeded for the draw, something that Liverpool achieved by winning Group A. The four teams who finished best in their Champions League group will also be seeded which means Chelsea will be the second English team to be seeded.
Tottenham can not be drawn against Lazio, the winners of their group, or either of the two seeded English team. They will, therefore face one of the 13 remaining seeded teams with their first match being at White Hart Lane.
Who could Spurs Meet?
The possible opponents from the Europa League Group winners are:
Pizen (Czech Rep) – Group B winners who topped the group which had the Europa League holders, Atletico Madrid, in second place.
Fenerbahce (Turkey) – Winners of Group C who headed both Borussia Monchengladbach and Marseille.
Bordeaux (France) – Winners of Group D – finishing ahead of Newcastle United.
Steaua Bucharest (Romania) – Group E winners, ahead of Stuttgart and Copenhagen.
Dnipro (Ukraine) – top of Group F, six points clear of Napoli in second place.
Genk (Belgium) – winners of Group G who were three points ahead of runners-up, Basle.
Rubin Kazan (Russia) – topped Group H, undefeated and three points better off than Inter Milan
Lyon (France) – Undefeated in Group I, dropping only two points. Ahead of Sparta Prague and Athletico Bilbao.
Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine) – Winners of Group K, level on points with Bayer Leverkusen.
Hannover (Germany) – Group L Winners, undefeated and one point ahead of Levante.
The three remaining possibilities are teams from the Champions League:
Olympiakos (Greece) – 3rd in CL Group B, Panathinaikos’ greatest rivals who were behind Schalke and Arsenal whom they defeated in their final group match.
Benfica (Portugal) – 3rd in CL Group G, finished behind Barcelona and Glasgow Celtic.
CFR Cluj (Romania) – 3rd in CL Group H, behind Manchester United who they defeated at Old Trafford in the final match, and Galatasaray.
Of those thirteen possible opponents, Tottenham have met four of them in previous European competitions.
- Most recently was Rubin Kazan in last year’s Europa League group with both matches ending 1 – 0 to the home side, although Harry Redknapp did use young players and squad members for both matches but especially in the away match.
- Benefica will revive memories of their 1962 European Cup semi-final encounters when Spurs just failed to reach the Final.
- Olympiakos were opponents for Tottenham in the UEFA Cup of 1972-73 when Spurs progressed 4 – 1 on aggregate.
- Lyon dumped Spurs out of the 1967 European Cup Winners’ Cup on the away goals rule, after Alan Mullery had been sent off in a tempestuous 1st Leg match in Lyon. It will also give Hugo Lloris to renew acquaintances with his former team.
Whichever team Tottenham are drawn against in the next round, Andre Villas-Boas can expect a difficult time as he looks to reach the last sixteen of the competition. The Europa League with the extra Round is a demanding competition and stretches teams to their limit.