x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Manchester City handed Greek test in Europa League

Manchester City will face Greek side Aris Salonika in the first knock-out stages of the Europa League while Liverpool will take on Sparta Prague.

Manchester City will face Greek side Aris Salonika in the first knock-out stages of the Europa League while Liverpool will take on Sparta Prague.

Both Premier League sides should be confident of making the last 16 following today’s draw, but Rangers have a tougher-looking test against Sporting Club de Portugal.

Roberto Mancini’s City will be aware however that Aris stunned the holders Atletico Madrid in the group stage — winning 3-2 away, a result which ultimately knocked the Spanish side out of the competition.

Liverpool may have been the draw specialists in the group phase, having tied four of their six games, but in Sparta they will face a side who have proved equally difficult to beat, having drawn three of their group matches.

If they get through, City will face Besiktas or Dynamo Kiev in the last 16, while Liverpool would face Lech Poznan or Braga. If Rangers progress, they would face Lille or PSV Eindhoven.

Aris’s coach is the vastly-experienced Argentinian Hector Cuper, who like Mancini once managed Inter Milan.

Manchester City’s football administrator Brian Marwood told Sky Sports News: “It’s two former Inter Milan coaches going head to head and I’m looking forward to it.

“With the preparation time we have we feel we’re in a very strong position in terms of our squad. Roberto has had the opportunity to rotate the group which allows players to be rested before certain games.

“It will be a difficult period, I think we play Manchester United before the away trip but as we get close we will prepare accordingly.

“The beauty of having a squad like ours, when we have important games, if we can stay clear of injuries and suspensions, we feel we’re in good shape.

“You saw last night even with a lot of players who are not playing regularly, they were very sharp, very bright and there was a good intensity to the game.”

 

The Europa League draws

Last 32

Napoli v Villarreal
Rangers v Sporting
Sparta Prague v Liverpool
Anderlecht v Ajax
Lech Poznan v Braga
Besiktas v Dynamo Kiev
Basel v Spartak Moscow
Young Boys v Zenit St Petersburg
Aris Salonika v Manchester City
PAOK Salonika v CSKA Moscow
Sevilla v Porto
Rubin Kazan v Twente Enschede
Lille v PSV Eindhoven
Benfica v VfB Stuttgart
BATE Borisov v Paris St Germain
Metalist Kharkiv v Bayer Leverkusen

Last 16

Benfica/VfB Stuttgart v BATE Borisov/Paris St Germain
Besiktas/Dynamo Kiev v Aris Salonika/Manchester City
Rubin Kazan/Twente Enschede v Young Boys/Zenit St Petersburg
PAOK Salonika/CSKA Moscow v Sevilla/Porto
Lille/PSV Eindhoven v Rangers/Sporting
Metalist Kharkiv/Bayer Leverkusen v Napoli/Villarreal
Anderlecht/Ajax Amsterdam v Basel/Spartak Moscow
Sparta Prague/Liverpool v Lech Poznan/Braga