UEFA Europa League Recap – 8 March 2012
It was an exciting day in the Europa League as Manchester City and Manchester United both lost in first leg matches. All of these clubs will play next Thursday in the second legs with the winners advancing to the quarterfinals. Below is a recap of the matches on March 8, 2012.
Strength Shown By La Liga
It was a great day for Spanish sides as Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, and Valencia all won. Atletico won this competition recently and the other two are looking like very strong contenders. In comparison to the other top leagues, La Liga teams were 3-0 while Serie A, EPL, and Bundesliga teams failed to get a victory (Hannover earned a draw for only result).
Manchester Sides Struggle
The loss by City wasn’t too shocking considering they were at Lisbon but almost nobody anticipated United losing at home to Athletic Bilbao. Both teams are focused on the EPL race and the Europa League isn’t a top priority. What was shocking about Thursday was United’s loss despite fielding a very strong side. City, while not in an ideal position, will still be favored to advance with the second leg at home.
It’s Still Very Wide Open
At this point in the competition, several teams still have a decent chance to lift the trophy. Man Utd and Man City appear to be the clear favorites but both struggled in first leg matches. Besides Metalist Kharkiv and Besiktas, the remaining teams could all make a deep run in the competition. Athletic Bilbao will draw a lot of attention with their win at Old Trafford but it remains very wide open.
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Besiktas
Metalist Kharkiv 0-1 Olympiakos
Sporting Lisbon 1-0 Man City
Twente 1-0 Schalke
AZ 2-0 Udinese
Man Utd 2-3 Athletic Bilbao
Standard Liege 2-2 Hannover 96
Valencia 4-2 PSV Eindhoven
Upcoming Fixtures (all on March 15, 2012, times are GMT)
Besiktas v Atletico Madrid – 21:05
Olympiakos v Metalist Kharkiv – 21:05
Man City v Sporting Lisbon - 19:00
Schalke v Twente – 21:05
Udinese v AZ – 19:00
Athletic Bilbao v Man Utd – 19:00
Hannover 96 v Standard Liege – 21:05
PSV Eindhoven v Valencia - 19:00