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Preview: The UEL Knockout Round Play-off 2nd leg

Napoli vs Barcelona and all the Europa League Knockout Round Play-off fixtures on February 24, 2022

February 24, 2022 By Ali M.
The Blaugrana will look to dump the Italian giants out of Europe, but that's not the only exciting fixture set to take place in this round.

The UEFA Europa League is back! The Knockout Round Play-off kicked off last week, with the 2nd leg set to wrap up today on Thursday.

Napoli vs Barcelona is undeniably the standout fixture, but there is a lot else to look forward to in the upcoming fixtures as the likes of RB Leipzig, Real Sociedad, Porto, Lazio, Atalanta, and Dortmund fight to make the round of 16.

Who will progress to the next stage? Who will bid their farewell to Europe today? Here's everything you need to know about the 2nd leg of the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Play-off.

Everything you need to know about the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Play-off format

Previously, the top two teams from the Europa League's 12 groups would qualify for the round of 32 and would be joined by the eight best third-placed teams from the UEFA Champions League group stage.

However, things are different this time around. The UEL groups are now eight, with the first-placed clubs progressing straight to the last 16. The eight runners-up, who are seeded, entered this Knockout Round Play-off and are joined by the eight aforementioned teams that crashed out of the UCL, who are thus unseeded. They face off over two legs, with the winners progressing to the last 16.

Who are the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Play-off teams?

Seeded (runners-up in the UEL group stage): Real Betis, Sporting Braga, Dinamo Zagreb, Lazio, Napoli, Olympiacos, Rangers, and Real Sociedad

Unseeded (crashed out of the UCL group stage): Atalanta, Barcelona, Dortmund, Leipzig, Porto, Sevilla, Sheriff, and Zenit 

What are the aggregate score lines heading into the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Play-off 2nd leg?

  • Olympiakos (1) vs Atalanta (2)

  • Lazio (1) vs Porto (2)

  • Dinamo Zagreb (1) vs Sevilla (3)

  • Real Sociedad (2) vs RB Leipzig (2)

  • Napoli (1) vs Barcelona (1)

  • Braga (0) vs Sheriff (2)

  • Rangers (4) vs Dortmund (2)

  • Real Betis (3) vs Zenit (2)

Top games to watch in the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Play-off 2nd leg

Napoli vs Barcelona: Whoever progresses in this tie will be one of the favorites, if not the favorites, for the Europa League title. However, who will win this showdown? With the score line tied at 1-1, everything remains up for grabs. The Blaugrana enter this clash on the back of their impressive 4-1 triumph over Valencia, a game which saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang net a lovely—and somewhat fortunate—hat-trick. Gli Azzurri, meanwhile, have drawn their last three games, suffering stalemates against Cagliari and Inter as well as the Catalan giants. Who'll win this tie? Tune in to find out.

Real Sociedad vs RB Leipzig: When these two sides faced off in the first leg, fans were treated to a thrilling 90 minutes of football. Will the same thing happen this time around? RB Leipzig were fortunate to pull off a draw at home, with Frosberg's 82nd-minute penalty making it 2-2. Real Sociedad have the home advantage this time around so it will be interesting to see if La Real can benefit from their home support. Don't miss this showdown.

Rangers vs Dortmund: The first leg of this tie produced one of the shock results. Despite boasting the home advantage, Dortmund found themselves 3-0 down against the champions of Scotland by the 49th minute. Goals from Bellingham and Guerreiro brought the aggregate score line to a more respectable level but Marco Rose's men have to overturn a huge two-goal deficit if they wish to make the last 16. What makes things worse is the German giants will likely be without the service of Haaland. Can BVB pull off a comeback? Make sure to catch the action live!

Lazio vs Porto: The first leg of this tie was held in Portugal and despite being the home side, Porto went a goal down first. However, the Dragons showed once again why they are the favorites to win the Primeira Liga as Conceição's men turned things around to win 2-1. Lazio probably weren't happy with that result as they let a crucial lead slip, with the Italians being held to a 1-1 draw by Udinese shortly afterwards. In fact, I Biancocelesti have triumphed only once in their last four outings, and as a result, they will have to defy the odds in order to seal the result they need at the Estádio do Dragão.

Who's in and who's out

Here are the list of players ruled out for the upcoming round from the UEFA Europa League's top clubs:

Rangers: Ianis Hagi (injured); Leon Balogun (doubtful); Nnamdi Ofoborh (unavailable)

Dortmund: Manuel Akanji, Mateu Morey, Marcel Schmelzer, and Giovanni Reyna (injured); Erling Braut Haaland, Thomas Meunier, and Dan-Axel Zagadou (doubtful)

Napoli: Matteo Politano, Hirving Lozano, Stanislav Lobotka, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and Lorenzo Insigne (injured); Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Kevin Malcuit (doubtful)

Barcelona: Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati, Alejandro Balde, and Sergi Roberto (all injured)

Real Sociedad: Ander Barrenetxea, Nacho Monreal, and Diego Rico (injured); Alexander Isak, Mikel Merino, and Adnan Januzaj (doubtful)

RB Leipzig: Marcel Halstenberg (injured); Angelino (doubtful)

Lazio: Pedro, Francesco Acerbi, and Manuel Lazzari (injured); Mattia Zaccagni (doubtful)

Porto: Wilson Manafa (injured); Wendell (doubtful)

Atalanta: Duvan Zapata, Aleksei Miranchuk, Luis Fernando Muriel, and Josip Ilicic (injured); Jose Luis Palomino (doubtful)

Full list of games for the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Play-off 2nd leg

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