Europa League: Arsenal meet Ostersund, Celtic tackle Zenit in round of 32
Arsenal will take on Swedish outfit Ostersunds in the last-32 of the Europa League in what appears to be a favourable draw for Arsene Wenger‘s side. Ostersunds finished second in Group J behind Athletic Bilbao, although they finished level on points with the Spanish side, and have been rewarded with a tie with the Gunners. The first leg will take place on February 15, where Arsenal will travel to Sweden, while the return fixture at the Emirates will be on February 22. Ostersunds are managed by the only English manager in the competition – Graham Potter. It’s a remarkable story, with the former Southampton and West Brom player taking them from the fourth-tier for Swedish football to a knock-out tie against Arsenal.
Celtic face a tricky test against Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg in what is a tough clash for Brendan Rodgers‘ side. Elsewhere, Serie A outfit Atalanta will meet Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund and seven-time Champions League winners AC Milan will take on Bulgaria’s Ludogorets, while Atletico Madrid take on FC Copenhagen and fellow La Liga side Athletic Bilbao face Spartak Moscow. Italian giants Napoli were handed a mouthwatering tie with Germany’s Red Bull Leipzig, with both sides having clashed out of the Champions League, while Villarreal’s tie with Lyon should also be entertaining. Arsenal were among the seeded sides, meaning they would avoid the likes of Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Villarreal and Lazio, although there were some tough teams still remaining in the draw including Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and Napoli, while they could have faced an all-British tie against Celtic.
The Gunners eased to the top of Group H – winning four of their six matches – ahead of Red Star Belgrade, FC Koln and BATE Borisov. Villarreal, Dynamo Kyiv, Braga, Milan, Atalanta, Lokomotiv Moscow, Viktoria Plzen, FC Salzburg, Athletic Bilbao and Lazio also topped their Europa League groups. Celtic were among the sides to drop into the competition after finishing third in their Champions League group, with Atletico, CSKA Moscow, RB Leipzig, Dortmund, Napoli, Spartak Moscow and Sporting Lisbon the other teams to fall down.
FULL EUROPA LEAGUE DRAW
Dortmund v Atalanta
Nice v Lokomotiv Moscow
FC Copenhagen v Atletico Madrid
Spartak Moscow v Athletic Bilbao
AEK Athens v Dynamo Kiev
Celtic v Zenit
Napoli v RB Leipzig
Red Star Belgrade v CSKA Moscow
Lyon v Villarreal
Real Sociedad v Salzburg
Partizan Belgrade v Viktoria Plzen
Steaua Bucharest v Lazio
Ludogorets v AC Milan
Astana v Sporting Lisbon
Ostersunds v Arsenal
Marseille v Braga