Europa League last-16 predictions: Liverpool and West Ham to progress, Brighton to lose

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring a goal with Luis Diaz and Andrew Robertson
Liverpool should have too much firepower for Sparta Prague - Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Liverpool were drawn against Sparta Prague in the last 16 of the Europa League, while Brighton face another tough test in their first season in Europe, with a tie against Roma.

West Ham will face their pool-stage opponents Freiburg again, while Rangers will take on Benfica.

All four British teams have the advantage of playing their second legs at home, courtesy of topping their groups.

They will travel to play their first legs on March 7, with the second legs to be played a week later on March 14.

Freiburg vs West Ham

After facing each other in the group stage, West Ham will be confident of getting through to the quarter-finals after winning home and away before Christmas. Nayef Aguerd headed home the winner at Europa-Park Stadion back in October, then at the London Stadium they ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Mohammed Kudus and Edson Alvarez. The difference, however, was that David Moyes’s team were in good form in the first half of the season but at the moment are in a run of eight games without a win. The Germans’ attack will be led by veteran Italy international Vincenzo Grifo, 30, who is their top scorer in all competitions this season.
Winners: West Ham

Roma vs Brighton

The Italians sacked Jose Mourinho last month, which is a reflection of their season. But they are finalists from last season and have pedigree in the competition. They also have a team containing Romelu Lukaku, Paulo Dybala and Lorenzo Pellegrini, who are match-winners against any opposition. Daniele De Rossi’s appointment has led to a series of victories so they will head into the match in form, while Brighton have blown hot and cold recently under Roberto De Zerbi. They scored 14 goals in recent wins against Sheffield United (twice) and Crystal Palace, but also lost 4-0 to Luton.
Winners: Roma

Sparta Prague v Liverpool

The Czech champions started the season in the Champions League but were knocked out at the play-off stage, although they were not defeated outright, going out on away goals to Copenhagen, who then defeated Manchester United. In their Europa League group they finished second ahead of Real Betis and behind Rangers, whom they drew with at home and lost to away. Liverpool, however, will not fear any team in their current form and their only issue is juggling matches and getting players back fit. They managed to avoid the tougher ties in the last-16 stage and it will be an upset if they do not progress.
Winners: Liverpool

Europa League last-16 draw: As it happened...

11:33 AM GMT

The full Europa League last-16 draw

Sparta Prague vs Liverpool

Marseille vs Villarreal

Roma vs Brighton

Benfica vs Rangers

Freiburg vs West Ham

Sporting Lisbon vs Atalanta

AC Milan vs Slavia Prague

Qarabag vs Bayer Leverkusen

11:30 AM GMT

What will teams make of it?

Liverpool and West Ham will be happy to have avoided the more dangerous looking sides, but Brighton have been handed another very tough assignment after coming through a group including Marseille, Ajax and AEK Athens.

Roma are one of the sides with the richest pedigree left in the tournament, and some sections of their travelling support will provide concern for Sussex Police.

Rangers face a big test against a storied club in Benfica, but the Glasgow side tend to the rise to the occasion.

Everyone will be relieved to have avoided in-form Leverkusen and the long trip to Qarabag (Azerbaijan).

11:26 AM GMT

When are the matches?

A reminder, all the British teams, because they were group winners, will be away for the first leg on Thursday, March 7 and at home for the second leg on March 14.

11:22 AM GMT

Last three ties

The last three fixtures drawn were:

Sporting Lisbon vs Atalanta

AC Milan vs Slavia Prague

Qarabag vs Bayer Leverkusen

11:19 AM GMT

Hammers to face Freiburg again

Freiburg vs West Ham, a repeat of the pool stage

11:17 AM GMT

Rangers to face Benfica

Benfica vs Rangers

11:16 AM GMT

Tough draw for Brighton!

Roma vs Brighton

11:14 AM GMT

Marseille vs Villarreal

Marseille vs Villarreal is next out

11:13 AM GMT

Liverpool get Sparta Prague

Sparta Prague vs Liverpool is the first fixture drawn

11:11 AM GMT

The technicalities

A Uefa official called Tobias explains that group winners will be drawn against a play-off winner from a different nation with the play-off winners being drawn first.

11:07 AM GMT

Dublin calling

Qarabag get some praise for being Azebaijan’s first team to reach the knockouts and then they roll out the red carpet for former Man Utd and Ireland defender John O’Shea - because the final is in Dublin

11:06 AM GMT

Suits in the house

UEFA deputy general secretary Giorgio Marchetti has taken to the stage to big up the upcoming draw...

11:04 AM GMT

Who are in the pots?

The eight group stage winners from the Europa League group stage are seeded, and will face the knockout round play-off winners.

Seeded teams
Atalanta (ITA)
Brighton (ENG)
Leverkusen (GER)
Liverpool (ENG)
Rangers (SCO)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Villarreal (ESP)
West Ham (ENG)

Unseeded teams
AC Milan (ITA)
Benfica (POR)
Freiburg (GER)
Marseille (FRA)
Qarabağ (AZE)
Roma (ITA)
Sparta Praha (CZE)
Sporting CP (POR)

11:03 AM GMT

We are under way...

The broadcast is under way from Nyon and they have quickly gone to a montage of the teams battling for glory in Europe’s second-tier competition with inappropriately dramatic music...

11:02 AM GMT

Who squeaked through?

The play-off phase, which included teams who had fallen out of the Champions League, was completed last night.

Here are the results:

Bodo Glimt 1-2 Ajax (Agg 3-4)

Dinamo Zagreb 1-1 Real Betis (Agg 2-1)

Ludogorets Razgrad 0-1 Servette (Agg 0-1)

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-2 Union Saint-Gilloise (Agg 3-4)

Ferencvaros 0-1 Olympiakos (Agg 0-2)

Legia Warsaw 0-3 Molde (Agg 2-6)

Slovan Bratislava 0-1 Sturm Graz (Agg 1-5)

10:56 AM GMT

Pots and balls ready to go...

10:55 AM GMT

Group stage recap

A quick recap of the group stages...

Liverpool topped Group E despite losing two matches, the 3-2 reverse in Toulouse and a final-round 2-1 defeat at Union SG.

West Ham, last year’s Europa Conference League winners, won Group A ahead of Freiburg thanks to five wins and just one defeat.

Brighton recovered from an opening home defeat by AEK Athens with fours win and a draw to top Group B, ahead of Marseille and Ajax.

Rangers won Group C by one point from Sparta Prague, despite drawing two and losing one.

10:47 AM GMT

Four British teams seeded

Four British teams will learn their  Europa League last-16 opponents today, when the draw takes place in Nyon, Switzerland.

Liverpool, Brighton, West Ham and Rangers are all seeded after topping their groups.

That means they will be away for the first leg on Thursday, March 7 and at home for the second leg on March 14.

The draw is set to begin at 11am UK time, although we can no doubt expect a fair bit of preamble before the balls are plucked.

Aston Villa, meanwhile, are in the Europa Conference League draw, which is due later, from midday.