Europa League: Who Barcelona might want to avoid in Monday's draw

Barça will learn their opponents in the Europa League later on Monday

| sport

David Salinas

Barcelona will learn their Europa League rivals on Monday when the draw takes place at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Xavi Hernandez's team will draw one of six potential sides in the playoff round, which is effectively the equivalent of the last 32.

Braga, Dinamo Zagreb, Lazio, Napoli, Rangers and Olympiacos are their possible opponents, with the Italian teams the ones they will want to avoid.

The new Europa League format pits the Champions League drop outs (teams that came third in their group, like Barça) against the runners-up from the eight Europa League groups. The winners of this 'playoff round' will then advance to the last 16 with the winners of the Europa League groups, who bypass this first round.

In addition to the six teams mentioned above, Real Sociedad and Real Betis were also runners-up in their groups, but Barça cannot draw another Spanish team at this stage.

Dates

The games will be played across two Thursdays at the end of February: the 17th and the 24th. Barça will play the first leg at Camp Nou and the second leg away.

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| SPORT

The winners of this playoff round will then be joined by the eight Europa League group winners: FK Crvena Zvezda, Eintracht Frankfurt, Galatasaray, Bayer Leverkusen, Olympique Lyon, Monaco, Spartak Moscow and West Ham. The draw for the last 16 will take place on Feb. 25 in Nyon.

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| UEFA

If Barça make it to that round, they will once again be unseeded and therefore have the first leg at Camp Nou. Once again, teams will not be able to draw teams from the same country, either.

The last 16 will be played over two Thursdays in March: the 10th and the 17th. The road to the Europa League final, in Seville at the Sanchez Pizjuan on May 18, has begun.

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