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Europa League Round of 32 preview

With the Europa League featuring one more round than the Champions League, we will see the conclusion of all the last-32 fixtures by the end of Thursday evening.

There will be plenty of British representation, with Arsenal, Wolves, Manchester United, Rangers and Celtic all in action.

Here, we preview the second leg clashes as the relatively inexperienced trio of Steven Gerrard, Mikel Arteta and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all bid to progress into the last-16.

Braga vs Rangers (2-3 on aggregate)

With an hour gone at Ibrox last week, you would have been all but forgiven for thinking the tie was over.

The Gers found themselves 2-0 down, and it seemed as though the final 30 minutes would be about damage limitation. However, inspired by loanee Ianis Hagi, who bagged twice, Gerrard’s men were able to turn the match around, eventually grabbing a 3-2 victory.

They may have shipped two away goals, but they now have a fighting chance of progressing in Portugal on Wednesday evening.

Braga, though, are a force to be reckoned with – that defeat in Scotland was their only one in 13 matches, and they have beaten Porto twice, Sporting Lisbon twice and Benfica once during that run as well.

Of all the ties involving British sides this week, this looks the most intriguing.

Espanyol vs Wolves (0-4 on aggregate)

Much like Arteta, Nuno Espirito Santo is taking the Europa League seriously – he put out a full-strength side at Molineux when these sides first met last week.

It got the job done, as well, with the Midlands outfit now able to take a commanding 4-0 lead to Spain.

Barring a disaster, the Old Gold are all but in the next round of the competition – one away goal will leave Espanyol needing six.

There are no fresh injuries for the Premier League side to contend with but, in such a commanding position, the Portuguese boss may look to rotate his squad and keep some of his star players fresh as we enter the business end of the season.

Arsenal vs Olympiakos (1-0 on aggregate)

Arsenal’s clash away in Greece was a tight affair.

For much of the match, it looked as though both teams would have to settle for a draw, but Arteta has Alexandre Lacazette to thank for the 1-0 victory that puts his side in ascendancy.

The Spaniard’s team selection made it clear that he sees this as an important competition – Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bernd Leno all started the first leg.

At the Emirates Stadium, both Reiss Nelson and Lucas Torreira could come back into the fold after spending time on the sidelines, whilst Kieran Tierney and Calum Chambers are both definitely out.

Although the Gunners lead, they should not expect an easy tie – Olympiacos are yet to lose domestically this season.

Celtic vs FC Copenhagen (1-1 on aggregate)

The Danish team may have bossed possession at home, but the Bhoys looked the most dangerous in the first half and, despite a second half fightback from the hosts, may be feeling a touch disappointed not to have scored a second away goal – they had 15 shots at goal to their opponents’ seven.

However, in the end, the Scottish champions could only muster a draw, and that was only after Fraser Forster saved a penalty with 11 minutes left on the clock.

The weekend’s action may give Neil Lennon’s side a boost, though – Copenhagen were only able to manage a draw against Silkeborg, who are bottom of Denmark’s Superliga, while the Hoops secure a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Paradise.

At home, in front of a raucous crowd, Celtic will be confident of getting the job done.

Will Celtic progress against Copenhagen?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Manchester United vs Club Brugge (1-1 on aggregate)

Early on in Belgium, it looked as though it could be a difficult night for the Red Devils as their hosts took the lead through Emmanuel Dennis.

However, Anthony Martial scored not too long after to draw things level, and that is how it stayed until the final whistle. The away goal puts United in pole position, but this is an opponent who should not be taken lightly – they held Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw in the Champions League group stage, and that was after they had taken a 2-0 lead as well.

Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford are long-term absentees, but the return of Scott McTominay could see him given a run-out at Old Trafford. We may also see the full debut of Odion Oghalo, who joined on loan in the January transfer window.

Article title: Europa League Round of 32 preview

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