Looking at the Europa League Round of 16 Draw for Tottenham

ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 29: Tottenham Hotspur Royal Antwerp v Tottenham Hotspur October 29, 2020 in Antwerpen Belgium (Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images)
ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 29: Tottenham Hotspur Royal Antwerp v Tottenham Hotspur October 29, 2020 in Antwerpen Belgium (Photo by Angelo Blankespoor/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur is one of sixteen teams to advance in the Europa League and will be joined by a whose-who of the smaller European Leagues as well as several very familiar names. With teams ranked 8th through 116th in the UEFA rankings in the draw, almost anything can happen for Spurs in what is becoming a must win competition. So when is the draw, who is involved, and what can happen for Spurs?

Europa League Round of 16 Draw

The draw will once again be held in Nyon, Switzerland and takes place Friday at Noon London time, or 5 AM for those in Arizona like me. The draw should be straight forward, unlike the previous round, as there are no known restrictions coming in.

In other words, if Manchester United is drawn for Tottenham it does not matter they are from the same domestic league, it will be Spurs versus United.

Likewise, If Young Boys – who finished second in Group A – is drawn by Roma – the Group A winners; then the two sides will play for a third time. And finally, if Shakhtar Donestk and Ajax – two sides from the Champions League – are drawn they too will clash.

The point is, unless some kind of Covid based restriction in put into place in the next 12+ hours, it is anything goes in the draw.

Draw full of big fish from small ponds

One of the rationale for the Europa League is to give some of the smaller federations the opportunity to do something on a larger scale that typically does not occur in the Champions League. Sure La Liga, Serie A, and the Premier League are represented at this point in the Europa League, but so are some of the smaller guys.

Seven of the 16 teams in still in the competition are in first place in their respective domestic leagues. The Europa League round of 16 will include the first place teams from Croatia (Dinamo Zagreb), Czech Republic (Slavia Praha), Greece (Olympiacos), Netherlands (Ajax), Scottland (Rangers), Switzerland (Young Boys), and Ukraine (Dynamo Kyiv).

These may be smaller names or smaller leagues, but these are no pushover teams. Rangers, Slavia Praha, and Shakhtar Donetsk have not lost yet domestically all season. Ajax has a plus 55 goal difference with 2 goals scored in just 22 games. Rangers have a +64 goal difference with 73 goals in 30 matches.

Sure there is the chance someone draws Molde, who is the lowest ranked team left according to UEFA at 116. Granada – from La Liga – is the next lowest ranked UEFA team at 78. In fairness to Molde, however, Norway has not been playing so they have not had league matches to build their rank and sharpen their play. That said, if they did, they would likely be the 8th team representing  different federation from first place.

The point of all this is that there are some small names, but these are NOT small teams. The three lowest ranked teams domestically in the competition are Arsenal (11th), Tottenham (9th), and Granada (9th). Do not think any team who wins 90% of the time is scared of some midtable team just because they are from the Premier League. Don’t agree, go ask Brendan Rodgers.

Tottenham are not the only household name

While Ajax can rightfully claim inclusion on the household name list too, the Eredivisie is not one of the big five leagues in Europe. However, names like AC Milan, Manchester United, Villareal, and Arsenal are all – like Tottenham – names familiar to a lot of folks.

United are the current favorites heading into the draw according to fivethirtyeight.com with a  24% chance of winning the tournament. Arsenal is currently second favorites with a 12% chance of winning. Spurs are currently listed as the 6th most likely team to win with and 8% chance, tied with Villareal.

When does the Round of 16 occur?

Of course after the draw, depending on who gets who, the odds will change as they will again in a fortnight after the Round of 16 gets underway. After the draw the two-legged affairs are slated to being the week of March 8, with the second leg the following week if the 15th of March.

Whoever Spurs play, between now and then Tottenham have Burnley, Fulham, and Crystal Palace. With an expanding bench and a chance to build on the confidence of the success of Wednesday and get back in the Premier League top four race. Or maybe by the the pressure to win the entire tournament will be enormous, only time will tell. Either way, we will know more after that 5 am draw tomorrow, well 5 am if you are in Arizona.

Next. Tottenham Show Depth in Europa League. dark

All 16 Clubs in Draw

Team                                    League                                UEFA Rank

AC Milan                            Serie A                                  54

Ajax                                     Eredivisie                            19

Arsenal                              EPL                                         11

Dinamo Zagreb               Croatian PL                          38

Dynamo Kyiv                    Ukrainian PL                       32

Granada                             La Liga                                   78

Manchester United        EPL                                         8

Molde                                 Norway                                116

Olympiacos                      Greece                                   35

Rangers                             Scottish PL                          55

Shakhtar Donetsk          Ukrainian PL                       16

Slavia Praha                     Czech Republic                   39

Tottenham                        EPL                                         14

Villareal                             La Liga                                   30

Young Boys                       Swiss PL                               48