The Europa League draw was conducted on Friday, and Tottenham Hotspur learned that their opponent would be Dinamo Zagreb. With the way the draw took place, Spurs should have been flying to Croatia for the away leg before returning home the following week in the second leg.
Today, the club confirmed what was being discussed some time after the draw: The legs are being reversed and Spurs will open up the Round of 16 at home instead of on the road.
️ Our @EuropaLeague Round of 16 first and second leg matches against @gnkdinamo have been reversed. #UEL ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/llwQoRLRxv— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 1, 2021
The reasoning for this is pretty simple: Due to UEFA guidelines, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal cannot have their legs at home on the same day. Dale Johnson confirmed as such but the club needed to work out the scheduling with UEFA first.
Tottenham's Europa League tie will be reversed, they cannot play at home on the same day as Arsenal, per UEFA rules (not day switch).— Dale Johnson (@DaleJohnsonESPN) February 26, 2021
The national Cup winners (Arsenal) hold the fixture rights.
Spurs v Dinamo Zagreb
Arsenal v Olympiakos #Arsenal #COYS
The tiebreaker being the current FA Cup holders is honestly a new rule to me but it’s not like we’ve had much of a chance to see it used. Either way, Arsenal have opted to host the second leg at the Emirates which means Spurs will host their opening leg match on March 11. The start times are what you would expect due to time zone differences.
There isn’t too much to dwell on here. Both legs are still going to played and whether or not a club prefers to host first or travel first is in the eye of the beholder. I personally think hosting first is better but it’s not my hill to die on by a long shot.