The UEFA Europa League round of 16 concludes on 14 March, with only three of the eight pairs of teams separated by more than one goal.
FC Internazionale Milano have the biggest deficit to overcome against a Tottenham Hotspur FC side unbeaten in this season’s competition. VfB Stuttgart, meanwhile, are 2-0 down against S.S. Lazio and head for Rome having never won on Italian soil. There is more hope for FC Zenit St Petersburg – trailing FC Basel 1893 by 2-0 – thanks to an impressive home record.
FC Rubin Kazan v Levante UD (0-0) • Rubin have lost three of their last 21 European home games (W9 D9 L3), with all those defeats coming in Moscow, where they have yet to score in three ‘home’ matches. European debutants Levante are unbeaten in seven games, including three on the road (W2 D1).
FC Zenit St Petersburg v FC Basel 1893 (0-2) • In the competition proper (group stage onwards), Zenit have won all six of their home fixtures since the advent of the UEFA Europa League by a two-goal margin – three 2-0s, two 3-1s and a 4-2. Basel are in the round of 16 for the first time since 2005/06, when they beat RC Strasbourg before a quarter-final defeat by Middlesbrough FC.
FC Internazionale Milano v Tottenham Hotspur FC (0-3) • Inter and Tottenham met in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage. The Nerazzurri won 4-3 at San Siro, with Tottenham triumphing 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Spurs are one of only two teams, along with S.S. Lazio, to remain unbeaten having started in the UEFA Europa League group stage. Inter’s 27 UEFA matches against English clubs have ended W12 D4 L11 (W8 D3 L2 at home).
Chelsea FC v FC Steaua Bucureşti (0-1) • Steaua’s best recent European campaign was halted in England in dramatic circumstances – 1-0 up from the first leg of their 2005/06 UEFA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough, and 3-0 up overall after 24 minutes of the return, they finished up losing 4-3 on aggregate. Chelsea could become the first side to win UEFA’s top two club competitions in reverse order in successive seasons.
Fenerbahçe SK v FC Viktoria Plzeň (1-0) • Fenerbahçe have won two of their last three European home games without conceding – but are far from invulnerable in Istanbul, having lost the other match in that sequence 3-0 to VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. Plzeň are playing in the last 16 of a UEFA competition for the first time.
FC Girondins de Bordeaux v SL Benfica (0-1) • Bordeaux eliminated Benfica in the second round of the 1986/87 European Cup Winners’ Cup in the teams’ only previous official encounter; the sides drew 1-1 in Lisbon before Bordeaux’s 1-0 home victory. Both clubs have featured in two UEFA Cup penalty shoot-outs, winning one and losing the other.
Newcastle United FC v FC Anji Makhachkala (0-0) • Newcastle’s defence is unbreached in three European games since the turn of the year – and they are unbeaten in 12 UEFA home fixtures (W8 D4) since a 2-1 reverse against RC Deportivo La Coruña in the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup semi-finals. This is the first time Anji have got to the last 16 of a European tournament; Newcastle are at this stage for the fifth time.
S.S. Lazio v VfB Stuttgart (2-0) • Lazio knocked out another Bundesliga outfit, Mönchengladbach, in the round of 32, prevailing 2-0 at home after a 3-3 draw in Germany. Stuttgart have yet to win in Italy; indeed, their overall record in ten matches against Italian teams is W2 D3 L5 (W2 D1 L2 at home – W0 D2 L3 away).