By Omolagba Oluwayemi
Football Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
The draw for one of Europe’s finest competition, Uefa Europa League took place this afternoon with Nigerian paired against each others in what will be an interesting encounter.
kick442.com takes a look at the fixtures which is slated for next February and what might be the likely outcome.
Slavia Prague (Peter Olayinka) Vs Leicester (Wilfred Ndidi & Kelechi Iheanacho)
Peter Olayinka enjoyed a relatively good performance in the group stages of the Uefa Europa League where he bagged two goals from 5 games, playing from the wing to help his side finish second with 12 points behind Bayer Leverkusen who had 15 points.
Slavia Prague currently leads Czech Republic league, 5 points ahead of closest rival, Sparta Prague.
Kelechi Iheanacho played all of Leicester’s group stage matches with 3 goals to his name and Wilfred Ndidi on the other hand was limited to 2 games due to injury. Leicester City enjoyed themselves in the group stages finishing top of their group with 13 points, and in the English Premier League, they’ve also been doing fine currently placed 3rd on the log, one point behind leaders, Tottenham Hotspurs.
No doubt it’s going to be a tough encounter for both sides with the Nigerians expected to be on parade for both legs. Kelechi Iheanacho might to be a starter over the two legs but he’s expected to play a vital role in the encounter. Baring any injuries, both Wilfred Ndidi and Peter Olayinka are expected to be fully engaged in the fixture.
I expect Leicester City to qualify after the two legs.
Granada (Ramon Azeez) Vs Napoli (Victor Osimhen)
Injury have limited both players performance on the field for their respective clubs this season. Why Ramon Azeez did not feature all through the group stages, Victor Osimhen played only twice with no goals.
Although Napoli have not been fantastic as we all expected, they’ve not been doing bad as well. They currently placed 3rd in the Italian Serie A table, 4 points behind leaders AC Milan.
Granada have been doing fine domestically for their level and also put up some fantastic efforts to qualify from their group.
This is going to be a tricky encounter as Napoli do struggle against Spanish oppositions but I’ll still give this to them. A Napoli win.
Salzburg (Noah Okafor, Karim Adeyemi) Vs Villarreal (Samuel Chukwueze)
RB Salzburg finished 3rd behind Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in the group stages of the Uefa Champions League.
Salzburg would have qualified for Champions League round of 16 had they beaten Atletico Madrid in the last group game and the loss brought them to the Europa League where they’ll face Spanish side, Villarreal.
Noah Okafor who currently plays for Switzerland U21 but eligible to represent Nigeria made for appearances for Salzburg in the group stages and Karim Adeyemi on the other hand who is currently representing Germany U19 scored a goal in 3 group appearances.
Samuel Chukwueze was key in Villarreal’s qualification and the versatile winger scored once in 4 appearances with Villarreal yet to play their last group game due to Covid-19 issues.
Ofcourse it’ll be a really tough fixtures going by both team’s style of play but experience should help Villarreal win this.
Royal Antwerp (Júnior Pius) Vs Rangers (Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun & Calvin Bassey)
Only one appearance for Júnior Pius in Europe this season but he stand a chance of facing Nigeria trio of Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey when their clubs clash next February.
Rangers remain unbeaten across all competition and this form will make them difficult to defeat.
Royal Antwerp also made a big statement when they beat Premier League leaders, Tottenham in the group stages.
A good fixture to watch out for but based on the current form of Steven Gerrard led Rangers, I’ll tip them to win over the two legs.
Other fixtures involving Nigerians:
Krasnodar Vs Dinamo Zagreb (Iyayi Atiemwen)
Molde (Leke James) Vs Hoffenheim
Olympiakos v PSV Eindhoven (Noni Madueke).
The two legs will take place on 18 and 25 February.
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