Three English clubs and both Celtic and Rangers are hoping to secure places in the last 16 of the Europa League tonight, while former European Cup winners Ajax and Inter Milan are bidding to qualify in adversity, for different reasons.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal host Olympiakos looking to extend a 10-match unbeaten run which has seen them unexpectedly launch bids to reach next season’s Champions League on two fronts.
The Gunners started the year languishing 12th in the Premier League, 11 points off the top four.
But they now sit just four points adrift of fifth-placed Manchester United, with a top-five finish potentially enough to qualify for the Champions League after Manchester City were handed a two-year ban by UEFA for financial fair-play breaches.
A 1-0 victory over Olympiakos in Greece has also put last season’s Europa League runners-up in pole position to reach the last 16 as they bid for a first European trophy since lifting the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side hold the upperhand following last week’s 1-1 draw in Belgium, but all is not lost for the visitors given the problems goalscorer Emmanuel Dennis repeatedly caused the United defence.
United’s latest financial results revealed revenues fell by almost 12 percent in the six months to December, underlining the club’s need for a return to Champions League football next season.
The arrival of Bruno Fernandes could provide just the spark required. The Portugal international scored his first United goal in a 3-0 win over Watford at the weekend. He also impressed in a brief cameo in the first leg.