The Europa League knockout stage begins with the round of 32—a collection of 24 teams advances from the Europa League group stages, and the eight third-place finishers from the Champions League join them. CSKA Moscow, Celtic, Sporting, Spartak Moscow, Napoli, and RB Leipzig all dropped down, as did Champions League regulars Atletico Madrid and Dortmund. How did they get here, you ask, and which of them could play against Arsenal in the next round? Let’s take a look at each of the eight clubs:
From Group A comes CKSA Moscow. The Russian club won three games in the Champions League group stages—two against Benfica and one against Basel—and they had a chance to advance to the knockout rounds right up until the last group match, which they lost to group winners Manchester United.
With the best record of the eight teams coming from the Champions League, CSKA will be seeded with Arsenal and can’t be drawn against the Gunners for the round of 32.
Celtic found themselves in Group B with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, which meant that things were always going to be difficult for them. They won just a single game against Anderlecht, and in their two games against PSG they let in first five and then seven goals. At the end of the Champions League group stages, they were tied on points with Anderlecht, but took third place on goal difference.
Their three points in Group B gives them the second worst record of the Champions League teams, so they’ll be in the unseeded group and could be drawn against Arsenal.
From Group C, the Europa League gets Atletico Madrid, who finished four points behind group leaders Roma and runners-up Chelsea. Atletico can’t be happy with their Champions League campaign, which included a draw and a loss to Chelsea, a draw with Roma, and two draws with Qarabag (which provided that club’s only two points in the group). They won just one game, against Roma, and would have needed a win against Chelsea in the last match to advance.
Although they may be an issue for Arsenal later on, they can’t be drawn against the Gunners for the round of 32.
Like Celtic, Sporting had a tough time with Group D, which included Barcelona and Juventus, as well as Olympiacos. Sporting won both of their games against the Greek side, but lost both against Barcelona. They fared a bit better against Juventus, with one loss and a 1-1 draw.
With seven points in the Champions League, they are in the top four of the new Europa League arrivals and won’t play Arsenal in the first of the knockout rounds.
Spartak shared Group E with Liverpool, previous Europa League winners Sevilla, and NK Maribor. They put up a good fight early on, drawing with Maribor and Liverpool and beating Sevilla 5-1, but fell off after that. Although they managed another draw with Maribor, they lost the return fixture to Sevilla, and then let Liverpool score a touchdown in their last group stage game.
Their Champions League record puts them top of the bottom four transferring clubs, which means that they could play Arsenal in the round of 32.
Napoli were a bit shaky throughout their Group F campaign. They started with a loss to Shakhtar Donetsk, followed up a win against Feyenoord with two losses to Manchester City, won their second game against Shakhtar, and finished with a loss to Feyenoord. Runners-up Shakhtar finished six points ahead of them, so Napoli would have had to win their last game and had a few other things go in their favor to stay in the Champions League.
Napoli will be unseeded and could be drawn against Arsenal for the first of the knockout rounds.
Leipzig played in Group G with Besiktas, Porto, and Monaco. Their Champions League campaign was one of ups and downs—they started with a draw at home with Monaco, lost to Besiktas, won against Porto, turned right around and lost to Porto, beat Monaco away by three goals, and then lost to Besiktas in their last game. They would have needed a win in that game to have any hope of progressing.
With one of the better records of transferring clubs, they can’t be drawn against Arsenal on Monday.
Of all the teams coming from the Champions League, Dortmund have the worst group stage record. They barely even made it to the Europa League, finishing level on points in Group H with APOEL FC and squeaking by on goal difference. They lost both of their games against Real Madrid and both against Tottenham, and drew both with APOEL. Madrid’s six-goal drubbing of APOEL allowed them to place third.
Dortmund could be drawn against Arsenal for the round of 32, and while they have a reputation as a team we should worry about, their recent results in the Champions League and the Bundesliga haven’t been the greatest.
The Europa League round of 32 draw is on Monday, December 11. Arsenal have already secured their place in the knockout rounds, but the games today, including theirs against BATE Borisov, will determine who else from their group goes with them.