After Thursday night’s matches, the draw for the last 16 stage of this season’s UEFA Cup looks like this:
Werder Bremen v Saint-Etienne
CSKA Moscow v Shakhtar Donetsk
Udinese v Zenit St Petersburg
Paris Saint-Germain v Braga
Dynamo Kiev or Valencia v Metalist Kharkiv
Manchester City v Aalborg
Marseille v Ajax
Hamburg v Galatasaray
Aston Villa and Tottenham effectively threw their chances for qualification by fielding weakened teams, citing league priorities as the reason. Martin O’Neill has been criticised (but not Redknapp, although he had money to burn in January but Tottenham are still struggling) for spending on – wait for it – quality instead of quantity, which is just ridiculous. It’s the manager’s call at the end of the day and while I’d have liked to see Villa progress in Europe, they can always give the UEFA Cup a try next season if they don’t make it to the Champions League this season, but they are unlikely to get this good a chance to qualify for Europe next season.
Disappointed to see Milan not make it, but that’s cup football for you.
Overall, some very good matchups in store for us in the next round.