Less than 24 hours after Arsenal’s 3-0 dismantling of BATE Borisov saw the Gunners through to the round of 16, the path to the Europa League final became a little clearer as this morning’s draw found the Gunners matched up with Stade Rennes from Ligue 1.
Typically, since they were drawn first, Arsenal should have been the host for the first of the two legs. However, as poster bobloblaw_305 pointed out, the weird EUFA rules dictate that only one of Arsenal or Chelsea can play at home on the same day in the Europa League since they are based out of the same city. Since Chelsea’s draw happened first, they get home field advantage for the first leg, while Arsenal will take the short trip to France.
With only 16 teams remaining, the field had narrowed enough that there weren’t many cake walks remaining. Luckily, Arsenal fared about as well as they could have with their draw against Rennes, missing out on some of the more potentially dangerous matchups like Napoli or Sevilla.
Stade Rennes currently sits 11th in France’s top flight and managed to finish second in Group K, behind Dynamo Kiev. They drew Real Betis in the round of 32, besting them by a 6-4 aggregate over two matches.
So the stage is now set for Arsenal, who made it all the way to last season’s semi-finals, losing to eventual champions Atletico Madrid. With manager Unai Emery’s track record of success in this international competition, anything less than matching last year’s campaign will be a tough pill for Arsenal to swallow.
Chelsea, the other Premier League team still in the tournament, will face Dynamo Kiev.
The rest of the match-ups are:
Eintracht Frankfurt v Inter
Dinamo Zagreb v Benfica
Napoli v Salzburg
Valencia v Krasnodar
Sevilla v Slavia Prague
Zenit St. Petersburg v Villareal
The first match is scheduled for Thursday, March 7th at Roazhon Park at 12:55est/9:55pst.