Tottenham Hotspur lost to Besiktas 1-0 at the Attaturk Stadium in Istanbul on Thursday, a loss that left them 2nd in Europa League's Group C. The draw for the Round of 32 will take place on Monday, December 15. Now that Spurs have finished 2nd in the group, what can they expect from the draw? Who will they likely face?
Europa League Seeded Teams
These are the teams that won their Europa League group and hence are given somewhat protected status.
- Borussia Mönchengladbach (Group A)
- Club Brugge (Group B)
- Besiktas (Group C)
- Red Bull Salzburg (Group D)
- Dynamo Moscow (Group E)
- Inter Milan (Group F)
- Feyenoord (Group G)
- Everton (Group H)
- Napoli (Group I)
- Dynamo Kyiv (Group J)
- Fiorentina (Group K)
- Legia Warsaw (Group L)
In addition to the above teams, we also have the Champions League teams who finished third in their groups. The four clubs who received the most points parachute in to seeded positions; the bottom four are unseeded.
- Sporting CP
- Athletic Bilbao
- Zenit St. Petersburg
Europa League unseeded teams
These are the remaining teams in the field. They finished either second in their Europa group, or were the four teams in the Champions League who finished third in their group but with the lowest points total
- Tottenham Hotspur
- PSV Eindhoven
- Young Boys
- Anderlecht (Champions League)
- Ajax (Champions League)
- Liverpool (Champions League)
- Roma (Champions League)
The draw will take place on Monday, December 15 at 1:00 p.m. CET (7:00 a.m. ET) at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Seeded teams go into one pot, unseeded teams go into another pot. A seeded club cannot be drawn against another seeded club, and clubs cannot be drawn against another team either in their Europa group or in their domestic league. These rules are for the Round of 32 only; after this round, all restrictions are off. The drawn teams will play two matches, home and away. The away-goals rule is in effect.
So what does this mean for Spurs?
In short, nothing very good. As an unseeded team, they have a very good chance of drawing someone big and scary in the next round. There are a number of very good teams left in the Europa League, and odds are Spurs are going to have to play one of them. Spurs obviously cannot be drawn against Besiktas, Liverpool, or Everton in this draw, but everyone else is fair game.
Dream scenarios: Brugge, Warsaw, Salzburg, Inter Milan, Feyenoord. There aren't too many of these, but there are a few of clubs that are a little on the wishy-washy side that Spurs would have a decent chance of beating in a home-and-away pairing. Brugge is the cake-walk draw, and we should all hope we get them. Legia Warsaw is ranked 104 in the Euro Club Index, which feels a bit low, but they're not very good. Feyenoord's pretty meh, and Salzburg isn't the same club as when Rodger Schmidt paced the sidelines. Finally, Inter is a tire fire, and while they're a club with a lot of history, they're eminently beatable, especially this season.
Nightmare scenarios: Zenit, Moscow, Kyiv, Napoli, Olympiacos, Gladbach. Obviously, drawing Zenit St. Petersburg would be awful, not only because they're a good club but because it's a match-up brimming with #narrative, considering their manager is Andre Villas-Boas. You also pretty much want to avoid any of the other Champions League teams, because none of them are trash. Napoli and Gladbach are also scary. Finally, a poll of the writers reveals terror at the thought of playing Dinamo Moscow or Dinamo Kyiv. Travel + team that wants to win it all + good players = no bueno.
Life would've been much easier for Spurs had they managed to scrape a draw today, but it's not all terrible news. Regardless of today's result, Spurs are still in the competition. So long as they play well and don't punt to concentrate on the league, they still have a chance. With a few good wins and a few lucky upsets they may find themselves with a decent shot of progressing deep into the Europa League elimination rounds.