Looking at the final 32 teams left in the Europa League, you might be a bit disappointed to see Newcastle being in the ‘unseeded’ pot and having to face either a Champions League team, or a side who won their Europa Group. Scary.

Though on closer inspection it would seem that actually, when comparing the two pots of ‘seeded’ and ‘unseeded’ teams, the ‘unseeded’ teams look far more difficult to face. Maybe Newcastle have dodged a bullet finishing as Group D runners up and now find themselves in a more favourable position than they would had they topped the group. It’s not supposed to work like that, is it?! Take a look at both pots and compare the teams:

Seeded:

Benfica, Bordeaux, CFR Cluj,Chelsea,Dnipro,Fenerbahce,Genk,Hannover,Lazio, Lyon, Liverpool, Metalist Kharkiv, Olympiakos, Rubin Kazan, Steaua Bucuresti, Viktoria Plzen

Unseeded:

Ajax, Anzhi Makhachkala, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Monchengladbach, BATE Borisov, Bayer Leverkusen, Dynamo Kiev,FC Basel, Inter Milan, Levante,Napoli,Newcastle United, Sparta Prague, Stuttgart, Tottenham Hotspur, Zenit St Petersburg

Newcastle can’t be drawn against a fellow English side in the last 32, nor can they play a team from their group, meaning we won’t face Bordeaux, Chelsea or Liverpool in the next round. Judging by the remaining teams, namely the teams we could face, they don’t look too dangerous. Of course; Benefica, Fenerbahce, Lazio and Lyon all have established European pedigree but they don’t come across as overwhelmingly intimidating. Plus with the possibility of taking on the likes of Dnipro, Metalist, Steaua or Viktoria, it seems we shouldn’t have any fear in who we face.

Comparing those sides to some of the names in the ‘unseeded’ pot, I think we’ve actually gotten the better deal by finishing second in our group! Imagine having to face a Napoli or Inter Milan, or even a Falcao fuelled Atletico Madrid; then I’d have major doubts over our qualification prospects!

So for all those screaming at Pardew’s team selection last night maybe it’s time to think again. I wouldn’t say Alan Pardew has shown us mere mortals in ensuring that, as group runners up, we could yet get a much more favourable draw than Bordeaux could, maybe this policy of rotation and cup teams, fused of fringe and youth players, may have paid off big time.

The luck of the draw:

Thursday, December 20th at 2pm is when we will find out our final 32 opponent, with the first leg being played at St. James Park February 14th, with the away leg a week later on the 21st. The draw will also reveal who we could potentially face in the final 16, as both rounds are drawn at once.

The last 16 is when the competition really heats up and the Europa League resembles much more of a classic, FA Cup style knockout round where anybody can play anyone, abandoning seedings. Hopefully Newcastle can ensure that they’re a part of the last 16 which takes place in March as this competition could very well be the highlight of our season this year. Judging by the teams we could face in the last 32 there are some potential banana skins but the teams in the unseeded pot along with ourselves look far more intimidating!

Where’d you want to go?

Personally I’d like to avoid Lazio or even Fenerbahce because there’s bound to be trouble for our away fans. Hopefully we can get Hannover or Viktoria Plzen, both would seem beatable and both would be a good away day to sample some foreign beers, continuing our European adventure.

For now though, the seeds have been sown, so let’s see what stems from the draw on the 20th and grow in this competition, leaving as winners in Amsterdam next May – now that would be a good trip…

Thanks to Jamie for his first article, he also has his own excellent blog which you can visit at carryingcoals.com

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  • actually looks pretty crafty from el pardinho when you see the seeded teams.also hopefully have a stronger squad with cabaye back by then,really positive about 2nd half of season IF we can strengthen a little

    • Hopefully! If we can bring in 2 or 3 in January and get playing back and playing some better football come January I’d give us a chance against the majority, if not all, of those seeded teams.

  • Modernist

    What makes you think that there will be trouble for our fans if we get Lazio? Did you go to the NUFC – ROMA/JUVE/PALERMO/INTER games. Obviously not! The reason we don’t get into any/much bother in Europe is because we are not pretentious up our own arses types of supporters. Unlike your Chelsea/Man Utd/Spurs/Liverpool/Leeds.

    • I thought it was worth mentioning seeing as a Spurs fan was stabbed recently. I’m not insinuating that a Newcastle fan would provoke an attack, or that the Spurs fan did for that matter, however it only takes one idiot from either side. Italian clubs, especially Lazio, are more well known to be violent than many other places listed above. As for us, we can be proud at how our fans behave on away days, I think your comment is pretty disrespectful to the Spurs fan who was injured in Lazio.

      • john hill

        the pillocks who stabbed a spurs fan were Roma fans.