It's time! The draw for the first knockout round of the 2015-16 Europa League will take place this morning at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. After an interminably long group stage, the top two teams from each group are joined by the cast-offs from the UEFA Champions League to form a field of 32.
Pot 1 includes the 12 winners of the Group Stage groups, plus the four top-rated Champions League drop-outs. Pot 2 is everyone else. In this first knock-out round, teams cannot be drawn against clubs from their own league, nor can they be drawn against teams from their Europa League group. For Spurs, that means they can't draw Liverpool, Manchester United, or Anderlecht in the first round. After this, though, it's all random. The rounds are played home and away over two legs, with winners advancing on aggregate.
Here are the two pots.
Europa League Round of 32 Pots
|Pot 1 (seeded)||Pot 2 (unseeded)|
|Porto (POR)||Sevilla (ESP)|
|Manchester United (ENG)||Valencia (ESP)|
|Olympiacos (GRE)||Galatasaray (TUR)|
|Bayer Leverkusen (GER)||Shakthar Donetsk (UKR)|
|Molde FK (NOR)||Fenerbache (TUR)|
|Liverpool (ENG)||Sion (SUI)|
|Krasnodar (RUS)||Borussia Dortmund (GER)|
|Napoli (ITA)||Midtyjlland (DEN)|
|Rapid Wien (AUS)||Villarreal (ESP)|
|SC Braga (POR)||Marseille (FRA)|
|Lazio (ITA)||Saint-Etienne (FRA)|
|Lokomotiv (RUS)||Sporting (POR)|
|Basel (SUI)||Fiorentina (ITA)|
|Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)||Anderlecht (BEL)|
|Schalke 04 (GER)||Sparta Praha (CZE)|
|Athletic Bilbao (ESP)||Augsburg (GER)|
As we stated earlier this week, Dortmund is the Big Bad of the draw, as they are ludicrously in Pot 2 after a disappointing Champions League campaign. Everyone in Pot 1 fears them as they are rightfully one of the best teams in the field. But there's lots of other scary clubs in here as well: two-time defending champion Sevilla is also in Pot 2, and Dortmund, Villareal, and Marseille are no one to be trifled with. Plus there's the possibility of having to travel to Turkey or Ukraine.
But enough about the seeding. Menno, you say, how can I watch grown men draw ping pong balls with scraps of paper inside out of giant glass bowls? I'm so glad you asked, random internet stranger!
How to Watch
Your best bet, if you don't have a Sky subscription or live outside of the UK, is to stream the proceedings on UEFA's website. That does mean, however, getting up at 7:00 a.m. if you live on the east coast, or earlier if you live west of Indiana. I can't promise I'll be doing that, but knock yourself out.