FairsCup1At 1pm on Thursday, all eyes will be on the draw to see who Newcastle get in the first knockout round of the Europa League, as well as who we would play in the following round (last sixteen).

Both draws are made on Thursday but first things first, these are the possibles for the first draw where 32 teams are involved.

They were split into two groups of sixteen, unseeded and seeded, and we ended up unseeded with Liverpool and Chelsea ruled out as opponents in this round as well as Bordeaux.

Leaving the following thirteen clubs as the possibilities;

Benfica (Portugal)
CFR Cluj (Romania)
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine)
Fenerbahce (Turkey)
Genk (Belgium)
Hannover 96 (Germany)
Lazio (Italy)
Lyon (France)
Metalist (Ukraine)
Olympiakos (Greece)
Rubin Kazan (Russia)
Steaua Bucuresti (Romania)
Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic)

As to who you would like to draw, it could largely depend on whether you fancy trying to make the trip to the away leg.

In terms of an attractive trip then Lazio would be top for many people, though some may be put off after the trouble when Spurs fans visited Rome in the group stages.

Guessing that Genk is the cheapest and most accessible with the possibility of going by ferry/channel tunnel and Eurostar. European trips to Germany have always gone down well so Hannover is a possibility.

Benfica would also be popular with many, while visiting the home of the Pilsen brewery might be a draw for some to choose Viktoria Plzen, while Lyon is drivable but well towards the south of France.

Most of the rest are likely to come under various heading such as; tricky to get to, expensive travel arrangements and ‘places would never think about gong to outside of European football’.

As for actually getting through to the following round; Lazio looked decent against Spurs, Lyon are joint top with big spending PSG, Benfica top their league and in Romania, Steaua lead the table but it is Cluj who have made the European headlines as they beat Manchester United and missed out on qualifying by a whisker from their Champions League group.

Would be nice to think we’ll be breathing more easily in the Premier League when the European matches start up again, whoever we are playing – the ‘Round of 32’ matches will be played on 14th and 21st February, while the ‘Round of 16’ will be 7th and 14th March.

Who do you fancy in the draw?

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