Sparta clash for Chelsea

Chelsea drew Sparta Prague in the Europa League, while Spurs meet Lyon, Liverpool face Anzhi and Newcastle landed Metalist.

Last Updated: 20/12/12 at 15:49 Post Comment

Chelsea: European champions will face Sparta Prague in Europa League

Chelsea: European champions will face Sparta Prague in Europa League

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Details of the draw for the last 32 of the Europa League.

Reigning European champions Chelsea will face Sparta Prague in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Blues, who failed to make the knockout stages of the top-tier European competition, will start their bid to become only the fourth club after Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich to win all of the major European trophies as they bid to usurp defending champions Atletico Madrid.

Tottenham will take on Ligue 1 side Lyon, starting with a home tie on February 14, while Liverpool face Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg and Newcastle take on Ukraine's Metalist Kharkiv.Chelsea avoided a rematch with Atletico,.who handed them a 4-1 drubbing in the Super Cup back in August, and as a seeded team will start their Europa League campaign in Prague.

Atletico drew Russian side Rubin Kazan as they bid to defend the title they won with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Athletic Bilbao in last year's all-Spanish final.

Liverpool travel to Zenit for their opening round of 32 match to face the Russian side who has hit the headlines this week when their largest supporters group, Landscrona, caused widespread outrage.

They posted an open letter on their website that outlined their preferred criteria for future signings at Zenit to exclude sexual minorities and non-Europeans from the playing staff.

Tottenham will play what could be one of the most hotly contested ties of the round when they face Lyon, who are a tough opponent more used to Champions League football.

Andre Villas-Boas' side could line up a last-16 meeting with Inter Milan if they can beat Lyon over two legs, and if the Serie A side can win their tie against Romania's Cluj.

It would be a much-anticipated match an evoke memories of when Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick at the San Siro for Tottenham against Inter in a match that eventually saw the north London side lose 4-3 in October 2010.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes the Europa League will be given the respect it deserves when his side face Lyon.

"Lyon is a tremendous tie for us in the sense that it gives this country, along with the Liverpool game, the chance to see wonderful Europa League fixtures being played," Villas-Boas told reporters.

"Zenit-Liverpool and Tottenham-Lyon should both be considered like Champions League fixtures so I think this is something important for the competition, for how it's seen in this country.

"The fact that we play Lyon, who are used to being in the Champions League and used to winning trophies, it's an important reference for us.

"If we want to set our targets for Champions League qualification, this is the kind of team we will face, teams with a winning mentality, full of quality players.

"In that sense I think it's excellent for the publicity of the competition in this country."

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew admitted the club's Europa League adventure in Ukraine will be a trip into the dark.

The Magpies, who were paired with Metalist Kharkiv, face a lengthy journey as well as a tough tie when the competition resumes in February.

Asked what he knew about their next opponents, Pardew said: "Not much, really.

"I do know it's a long journey, I've had a look at that, and they won their group, so it's a tough agenda for us.

"It's a tough draw in terms of travel; the opposition, I know very little about. I can't even comment on that until such time as we do some studying."

In the other games, Champions League dropouts BATE Borisov face Turkey's Fenerbahce while Spain's Levante take on Olympiacos and Dynamo Kyiv take on Ligue 1's Bordeaux in their knockout ties.

Dutch champions Ajax host Steaua Bucharest first in their round of 32 tie while Germany's Stuttgart host Genk and Bayer Leverkusen play Portugal's Benfica.

Borussia Monchengladbach face Lazio while Swiss champions Basel play Dnipro of the Ukraine, Russia's Anzhi play Hannover and Napoli take on Viktoria Plzen.


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