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Europa League last 16 draw, where Barcelona and Manchester United meet

Europa League last 16 draw, where Barcelona and Manchester United meet
The draw for the knockout stages of the Europa League has taken place and Arsenal are one step closer to winning the last 16.

After leading their group, the Gunners avoided that round plus two extra games as competition resumed in the new year. So Mikel Arteta’s decision to name a consistently strong starting formation is justified. However, the Spaniard will still be interested to see which team will advance.

Under UEFA rules, Arsenal will be included in the draw for the last 16 which takes place on 24 February 2023, meaning they can only play one of the eight non-seeded winners in the knockout stages. However, they cannot play against PSV Eindhoven because they are in the same group or Manchester United because they are from the same national association.
Now the incredible draw is Barcelona vs Man United. The Catalan giants were relegated to the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group, while the Red Devils are second behind Real Sociedad despite winning all but one of their matches.

This could certainly benefit Arsenal as strong challengers to lift the trophy will be eliminated in May. It’s almost impossible to predict at this point which decline will benefit Arteta and his team-mates because so much could happen between now and February, not to mention the unknown amount that the Winter World Cup will impact.

Both clubs are endowed with enough attacking quality to go far in the competition. Barcelona could call up Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Rafinha and Memphis Depay, for example, to name a few, while Arsenal already know the damage Marcus Rashford and Anthony can do.

And for that reason, an early exit at Man United would be the cheaper of the two options for the Gunners. However, Arsenal know very well the pain of losing to an English team in the Europa League final and they could take revenge on Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final.

Elsewhere in the draw, Jose Mourinho’s Roma meet Red Bull Salzburg and there are some interesting clashes between Bayer Leverkusen vs Monaco and Sevilla vs PSV Eindhoven. It might be interesting if Shakhtar Donetsk come forward as it remains to be seen which club Mihailo Mudric will play with amid his ties to Arsenal.
In a dream scenario for the Gunners, Juventus and Ajax would be beaten by Nantes and Union Berlin respectively, which would make their path to the final a bit easier, on paper at least. However, as it has been six years since the north London side last featured in the Champions League, they may want to go head-to-head with a regular team in the competition.