For two Wednesday and Thursday evenings (on the 21st and 22nd of February) in various countries of our continent the return legs of the first round of the playoffs of the Europa League. At once it should be noted that no super sensations and dizzy comebacks at this stage of the tournament had happened. And those teams which a week ago earlier have actually guaranteed the getting into the next round now, officially became the owners of 1/8 finals berths.
These are first of all, Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Arsenal London, Milan, Marseille, Sporting Lisbon and Leipzig. And according to the results of return legs the company of seven favorites was joined by three Russian clubs - CSKA, Lokomotiv and Zenit and also German Borussia Dortmund, Italian Lazio, French Olympique Lyonnais, Austrian Salzburg, FC Viktoria Plzeň and Ukrainian Dynamo Kyiv.
And this fact at first sight seems to be paradoxic but the Russian Premier League became the most representative in 1/8 finals of the Europa League 2018:
Russia - 3, Spain - 2, Italy - 2, Germany - 2, France - 2, England, Portugal, Ukraine, Austria and the Czech Republic – 1point each club.
The drawing procedure of the 1/8 finals of the Europa League happened in the Swiss headquarters of UEFA on the 23rd of Friday.
And now the most interesting fact! This time no top-lists and baskets of seed teams. All sixteen spheres with the names of 1/8 finals participants will be placed in one basket. And therefore all eight pairs of the next stage of the playoffs will be defined by a so-called "blind" lot.
However, this drawing procedure, nevertheless, has one restriction! Representatives of Russia and Ukraine, as before, will be included in different pairs. The first matches of the 1/8 finals will take place on the 8th of March and return legs at the fields of the rivals will take place on the 15th of March!