Celtic face Valencia test as Chelsea and Arsenal land favourable Europa ties

Celtic were handed a tough tie in the Europa League round of 32 after the Scottish Premiership champions were drawn to face Valencia.

Brendan Rodgers’ side made it into the knockout stages despite losing their final group match at home to Red Bull Salzburg last Thursday.

Premier League pair Chelsea and Arsenal have what appear to be easier ties, the Blues drawn against Swedish side Malmo and the Gunners paired with BATE Borisov of Belarus.

Valencia dropped down from the Champions League having finished third in a group where they took four points off Manchester United.

The Spanish side are down in 14th place in LaLiga having drawn 10 of their 16 league games so far this season, with the first leg taking place at Celtic Park on February 14 and the return fixture at the Mestalla a week later.

Chelsea were rewarded for topping Group L by drawing Malmo, who finished third in the 2018 Allsvenskan.

The Blues progressed ahead of BATE and the reigning Belarusian champions will meet another English opponent after being drawn to face Arsenal.

The two sides met in the group stage last season, with Arsenal winning both matches by an aggregate scoreline of 10-2.

Former Gunners fans’ favourite Alexander Hleb is still turning out for BATE at the age of 37 and will be looking forward to February’s fixtures.

Alexander Hleb enjoyed three years at Arsenal and will come up against the Gunners in February.
Alexander Hleb enjoyed three years at Arsenal and will come up against the Gunners in February (Sean Dempsey/PA)

The second leg of that tie will kick-off on Wednesday February 20 at 17:00GMT to avoid a clash with Chelsea’s tie.

UEFA rules stipulate that two clubs from the same city cannot play on the same night and that, as winners of their domestic cup competition, Chelsea are given priority.

The issue is clouded further as Arsenal’s game cannot clash with Champions League fixtures scheduled for February 20 – with Schalke v Manchester City and Atletico Madrid v Juventus due to take place that night.

That means many Arsenal supporters may face a rush to make it to the Emirates Stadium for a 17:00 kick-off.

Elsewhere, Inter Milan take on Rapid Vienna with Napoli drawn against FC Zurich and Sporting Lisbon meeting Villarreal.

Lazio and five-time winners Sevilla meet in one of the most eye-catching ties, with Viktoria Plzen taking on Dinamo Zagreb and Club Brugge facing Red Bull Salzburg.

Slavia Prague were drawn against Genk with Krasnodar v Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk v Eintracht Frankfurt also coming out of the hat.

Rennes will meet Real Betis, Olympiakos face Dynamo Kiev, Fenerbahce play Zenit St Petersburg with Galatasaray v Benfica the last tie to be drawn.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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