The draw for the 2016-17 Europa League Round of 32 took place this morning in Nyon, Switzerland and Tottenham Hotspur have been given one of the best possible draws. Spurs will face off against Belgium club K.A.A. Gent in the first knock-out round after parachuting into the competition by virtue of finishing third in their Champions League group.
What do we know about Gent? They’re a Belgian club whose crest features a stylized Native American head complete with headdress, but their nickname is “The Buffaloes,” a name inspired after Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show visited Flanders in the early 20th century. (This all makes sense somehow, promise.)
They finished third in the Belgian Pro League last season and are currently fifth in the Belgian league this season. They qualified for the Europa League knock-out stages by finishing 2nd behind Shakhtar Donetsk in a Europa League group that included Sporting Braga and Konyaspor; Gent lost both matches to Shakhtar but went unbeaten against the other two teams in their group to finish with eight points.
As far as Spurs go, this is probably one of the most favorable draws they could’ve received in this round. Gent, it must be said, don’t have any players on their roster that I’ve actually heard of (though Kevin McCauley tells me they have an Israeli-American player named Kenny Saief who is likely to choose Israel over USA). They advanced out of a fairly weak Europa group and the city of Ghent less than 200 miles from London. Spurs managed to avoid most of the tricky ties and shouldn’t have too much difficulty progressing to the next round in a home-and-home series, even if they send a rotated side to Belgium.
Gent were drawn as the home team and will host Spurs in the first match between the two, scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 16 with the return match at Wembley Stadium on Thursday, February 23.
Here are the full draw results for the Europa League Round of 32.
- Athletic Bilbao vs APOEL
- Legia Warsaw vs Ajax
- Anderlecht vs Zenit
- Astra Giurgiu vs Genk
- Manchester United vs St-Etienne
- Villarreal vs Roma
- Ludogorets vs Copenhagen
- Celta Vigo vs Shakhtar Donetsk
- Olympiacos vs Omanlispor
- Gent vs Tottenham Hotspur
- Rostov vs Sparta Prague
- Krasnodar vs Fenerbahce
- Borussia Monchengladbach vs Fiorentina
- AZ Alkmaar vs Lyon
- Hapoel Be'er Sheva vs Besiktas
- PAOK vs Schalke