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The Europa League round of 16 qualifiers - ranked

By Sean Walsh
Feb 26, 2021, 3:55 PM GMT
Up for grabs...
Up for grabs... | Soccrates Images/Getty Images
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Congratulations to all of the sides who have made it through to the 108th stage of the Europa League - the round of 16.

Some big hitters went down swinging in the last 32, but only half of them can journey on and continue to have the privilege of blaring the anthem out in their home stadium.

With the draw in the bag, who are the favourites to win the competition? Let's take a look...

16. Molde

Team strengths: No longer being held back by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Team weaknesses: No longer being spearheaded by Erling Haaland
Key players: Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Leke James, Fredrik Aursnes
Last 16 opponent: Granada

What do you mean Molde are still in the Europa League and haven't been drawn against Manchester United? Won't somebody please think of the narrative!

15. Dinamo Zagreb

Dinamo are among the weakest sides left
Dinamo are among the weakest sides left | Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

Team strengths: Their main supporters group is called the 'Bad Blues Boys'
Team weaknesses: That's not a hard nickname when translated into English
Key players: Dominik Livakovic, Arijan Ademi, Bruno Petkovic
Last 16 opponent: Tottenham Hotspur

Good evening, sir. Would you please leave without a fuss, right now?

14. Young Boys

Young Boys shocked Bayer Leverkusen in the last round
Young Boys shocked Bayer Leverkusen in the last round | MARTIN MEISSNER/Getty Images

Team strengths: Ended Basel's reign of Swiss terror
Team weaknesses: God, imagine trying to explain their team name
Key players: Jean-Pierre Nsame, Miralem Sulejmani, Christian Fassnacht
Last 16 opponent: Ajax

Not bad for a team of young boys!

Is this mic on?

13. Dynamo Kyiv

Lovely, lovely kit
Lovely, lovely kit | KURT DESPLENTER/Getty Images

Team strengths: Adapted to the cold and will fear no opponent
Team weaknesses: Everything else
Key players: Viktor Tsyhankov, Vladyslav Supriaha, Carlos de Pena
Last 16 opponents: Villarreal

Unfortunately for Dynamo, they are going to be swiftly dumped out by an Unai Emery side, because those are the laws of the Europa League.

12. Olympiacos

Team strengths: Have won the Greek league 107 times and it's only been going 106 years (according to Paul Merson)
Team weaknesses: This might need fact-checking
Key players: Mathieu Valbuena, Ruben Semedo, Youssef El Arabi
Last 16 opponent: Arsenal

Last season's round of 32 tie with Arsenal was great fun. We're delighted that they're facing off again.

11. Slavia Prague

Team strengths: Come from a beautiful city
Team weaknesses: Architecture doesn't win football matches
Key players: Ondrej Kolar, Nicolae Stanciu, Peter Olayinka
Last 16 opponent: Rangers

The spirit of Tomas Soucek will hopefully guide Slavia into the quarter-finals. But probably won't.

10. Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakthar have lived the same season for 100 years, according to ancient sources
Shakthar have lived the same season for 100 years, according to ancient sources | SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

Team strengths: Beat Real Madrid home and away this season
Team weaknesses: Still somehow were eliminated from the Champions League
Key players: Tete, Marlos, Taison
Last 16 opponent: Roma

Pretty sure Shakthar have been knocked out by Roma in every single European campaign ever. Don't see why that's going to change now.

9. Granada

Team strengths: Spanish teams tend to do well in the Europa League
Team weaknesses: Roberto Soldado in 2021? Really?
Key players: Darwin Machis, Rui Silva, Jesus Vallejo
Last 16 opponent: Molde

Thinking about that time someone tried to book a flight to Granada and ended up in Grenada instead.

8. Ajax

Ajax overcame Ligue 1 leaders Lille to reach the last 16
Ajax overcame Ligue 1 leaders Lille to reach the last 16 | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Team strengths: Loveable team
Team weaknesses: Might have that Benfica European curse
Key players: Dusan Tadic, David Neres, Daley Blind
Last 16 opponent: Young Boys

Hi Ajax, fancy actually winning a European competition this year and not just making a run for the fun of it?

7. Rangers

The wins just keep on coming for Rangers
The wins just keep on coming for Rangers | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Team strengths: Steven Gerrard might be the best manager in the world
Team weaknesses: I'm sure that'll change
Key players: James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent
Last 16 opponent: Slavia Prague

Steven Gerrard's showtime Rangers just keep on delivering the goods, and could even be champions of Scotland again by the time they face Slavia.

6. Arsenal

Arsenal have been carried by Bukayo Saka recently
Arsenal have been carried by Bukayo Saka recently | James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Team strengths: Aren't in real danger of Premier League relegation anymore
Team weaknesses: In real danger of becoming Everton
Key players: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey
Last 16 opponent: Olympiacos

At the time of writing, Arsenal are still in the bottom half of the Premier League, so they're lucky to even be this high on the list.

5. Roma

Team strengths: Great Twitter content
Team weaknesses: Football team aren't as great
Key players: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Edin Dzeko, Pedro
Last 16 opponent: Shakthar Donetsk

Roma's average squad age of about 47 might hinder them come the back-end of the season.

4. Villarreal

You're not wearing it properly, Unai
You're not wearing it properly, Unai | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Team strengths: Unai Emery, Europa League extraordinaire
Team weaknesses: Unai Emery, meme extraordinaire
Key players: Dani Parejo, Pau Torres, Paco Alcacer
Last 16 opponent: Dynamo Kyiv

Please, please, PLEASE can Villarreal meet Arsenal at some point.

3. Tottenham Hotspur

Team strengths: As the old song goes, 'Tottenham are the greatest team the world has ever seen'
Team weaknesses: Surely can't be the worst team the world has ever seen forever
Key players: Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Tanguy Ndombele
Last 16 opponent: Dinamo Zagreb

When I ranked all of the teams in the last 32, Spurs were top of that list as well as the Premier League table.

Doesn't time fly, eh?

2. Milan

Ibrahimovic will face off against one of his 57 former clubs in the next round
Ibrahimovic will face off against one of his 57 former clubs in the next round | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Team strengths: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is reborn
Team weaknesses: There must be a catch
Key players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Hakan Calhanoglu, Gianluigi Donnarumma
Last 16 opponent: Manchester United

Milan being good is good for football. So you better appreciate them while they're good before they're not good again.

1. Manchester United

'Mountains are there to be climbed, eh?'
'Mountains are there to be climbed, eh?' | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Team strengths: I'm not using the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer joke again
Team weaknesses: Yes I am. Being held back by Ole Gunn-
Key players: Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba
Last 16 opponent: Milan

On paper, United are easily one of the strongest teams. Sadly, football is played on a pitch, where they're consistently inconsistent.

But if they get past Milan, they easily have the best chance of going all the way.

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