A former Man City boss out to end United’s quadruple hopes, an Englishman once compared to Messi looking to knock out Arsenal and the Cypriot minnows desperate to topple West Ham – Sportsmail’s guide to the Premier League trio’s European rivals
- Arsenal will play Sporting Lisbon and Man United have been drawn Real Betis
- West Ham will face AEK Larnaca in the Europa Conference League last 16
The Europa League and third-tier Conference League round of 16 fixtures have finally been drawn.
Arsenal will play Sporting Lisbon in the last 16 of the Europa League and Manchester United have been drawn against Real Betis.
Meanwhile, West Ham will face Cypriot side AEK Larnaca in the Europa Conference League last 16.
Here is Sportsmail‘s guide to the Premier League trio’s European opponents…
Real Betis, who Manchester United have drawn, are coached by former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini
West Ham will face Cypriot side AEK Larnaca in the Europa Conference League last 16
Sporting Lisbon have an English talent who was once compared to Lionel Messi by Mauricio Pochettino – Marcus Edwards
West Ham, who are in the thick of a Premier League relegation battle, won all six of their group games before Christmas.
The Hammers will visit Cyprus on March 9 and play AEK Larnaca, with the return leg at the London Stadium on March 16.
The Green Yellows are top of the Cypriot First Division and have only lost four of their 24 league matches this season.
The club was formed in 1994 after a merger of two historical Larnaca clubs, EPA Larnaca and Pezoporikos.
AEK Larnaca entered the Europa Conference League at the Knockout Round stage, having finished third in Europa League Group B, behind Fenerbahçe and Rennes, and above Dynamo Kyiv.
They faced another Ukrainian side in the Knockout Round, prevailing over Dnipro-1 by a slender one-goal advantage, with Ángel Garcia notching the only strike of the tie, six minutes from the end of the first leg.
West Ham have never faced AEK Larnaca – or indeed any Cypriot opponent – in competitive action before, and this season marks the first time they have reached the latter knockout stages in European competition.
AEK Larnaca have one of the smallest stadium capacities of any side left in the competition with the AEK Arena having a total of just 8,058 seats
They faced a Ukrainian side in the Knockout Round, prevailing over Dnipro-1 by a slender one-goal advantage
They secured third place in their Europa League group by gaining four points against Dynamo Kyiv, and a further valuable point away at French side Rennes by drawing 1-1.
They are managed by former Spanish midfielder José Luis Oltra and have been runners-up of the Cypriot First Division five times.
Larnaca have also won the Cypriot Cup in two instances – 2004 and 2018.
They have one of the smallest stadium capacities of any side left in the competition with the AEK Arena having a total of just 8,058 seats.
This means there will only be space for 402 West Ham fans for the first leg.
Manchester United will host Real Betis at Old Trafford first having been unseeded in the draw.
Erik ten Hag’s side overcame Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in a thrilling play-off round tie and now encounter another team from LaLiga next month.
It was be the first time United have faced Betis in European competition, though they did lose 1-0 to the Seville-based team in a friendly in December.
Erik ten Hag’s youthful side were edged out 1-0 on that day, with Nabil Fekir’s second-half strike the difference at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Betis will represent a stern test for Ten Hag’s Quadruple-chasing side – they sit fifth in the LaLiga standings and are four points off the top four and a Champions League place.
Real Betis’ top goalscorer is 30-year-old striker Borja Iglesias. He has netted nine goals in 20 La Liga games this season
William Carvalho was linked with joining United back when David Moyes was manager
They are coached by former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and went through their group stage undefeated to finish six points clear of Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma.
Pellegrini has faced United four times previously in European competition and all four matches ended goalless with Villarreal in the 2005-06 and 2008-09 Champions League group stages.
They advanced to this stage after finishing top of Group C, having not lost a game against Roma, Ludogorets or HJK in their group.
Real Betis’ top goalscorer is 30-year-old striker Borja Iglesias. He has netted nine goals in 20 La Liga games this season.
Meanwhile, William Carvalho was linked with joining United back when David Moyes was manager.
Betis, who faced United in a friendly during the World Cup pause in December, were knocked out of the Europa League at the last-16 stage last season by eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt.
Arsenal, who topped their Europa League group to advance directly to this stage, will face Portuguese opponents Sporting Lisbon after swerving Juventus.
Sporting sit fourth, some 15 points adrift of leaders and city rivals Benfica, but they made light work of Danes Midtjylland in the play-off round, winning 4-0 away from home in Thursday night’s second leg having drawn the first game 1-1.
That came after they dropped out of the Champions League having finished behind Tottenham and Marseille in a tight group.
Sporting defeated Spurs 2-0 at home on matchday two and earned a 1-1 draw in London on matchday five.
While a winnable draw, Mikel Arteta must ultimately decide whether the Europa League will prove a hindrance to their Premier League title bid.
Sporting also have an English talent who was once compared to Lionel Messi by Mauricio Pochettino – Marcus Edwards.
Sporting made light work of Danes Midtjylland in the play-off round, winning 4-0 away from home
Sporting paid almost £9m to sign the 23-year-old from Vitoria in 2019 and agreed to Tottenham transferring his 50 per cent sell-on clause
Arsenal could come up against a familiar face in Hector Bellerin, who made a deadline day move to Lisbon from Barcelona after departing north London last summer
‘His qualities… it’s only looks – his body and the way that he plays – remember a little bit from the beginning of Messi,’ Pochettino said in 2016.
The winger trained with Brentford, was linked with Udinese, before eventually signing for Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal where his reinvention began.
Edwards notched 20 goals and provided 14 assists in 85 appearances for Vitoria, which earned him a move to Sporting in January of this year.
Sporting paid almost £9m to sign the 23-year-old from Vitoria in 2019 and agreed to Tottenham transferring his 50 per cent sell-on clause, rather than putting the deal at risk and the English club pocketing just £4.5m from that transfer.
Edwards joined Sporting in January on a contract that runs until 2026 and contains a release clause worth just under £52million, which means Spurs could one day bank half of that fee.
It is the third time Arsenal have been paired with Sporting in European competition – the first came back in the 1969/70 season.
The Gunners drew 0-0 away from home before a John Radford goal and a George Graham brace saw Arsenal progress to a successful Fair Cup run.
Then in 2018, Arsenal played two Europa League group games – drawing 0-0 at Emirates Stadium after Danny Welbeck’s strike saw the London side come out on top away from home.
Arsenal could come up against a familiar face in Hector Bellerin, who made a deadline day move to Lisbon from Barcelona after departing north London last summer.
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