Ajax and Juve to clash in Europe

Reprise of 1996 Champions League final in Europa draw while Liverpool face Unirea.

    When we were kings: Ravanelli and Juve hold the European Cup in 1996 [GALLO/GETTY]
    The draw for the knockout stages of the Europa League saw two fading stars of the European game drawn together in a reprise of the 1996 Champions League final.

    Ajax and Juventus were at the pinnacle of the game on the continent when they met at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome nearly 14 years ago.

    Their fortunes have waned since Juve won 4-2 on penalties after Fabrizio Ravanelli and Jari Litmanen produced a 1-1 draw that May night, despite finishing runners-up on three occasions since.

    For Ajax, a former powerhouse and hotbed of Total Football talent, a Europa League trophy is probably the best they can hope for outside Dutch domestic competition these days.

    Ajax will host the first leg of the round-of-32 match on February 18 before traveling to Turin for the return a week later.


    The Italian side are in the Europa League after being eliminated from the Champions League, while Ajax were exposed to the toughest possible opponents by finishing second in their first-round group.

    The winners over two games will meet Fulham or Shakhtar Donetsk in the next round.

    Europa League draw

     Rubin Kazan v Hapoel Tel Aviv
     Athletic Bilbao v Anderlecht
     Copenhagen v Marseille
     Panathinaikos v Roma
     Atletico Madrid v Galatasaray
     Ajax v Juventus
     FC Brugge v Valencia
     Fulham v Shakhtar Donetsk
     Liverpool v Unirea Urziceni
     Hamburg v PSV Eindhoven
     Villarreal v Wolfsburg
     Standard Liege v RB Salzburg
     FC Twente v Werder Bremen
     Lille v Fenerbahce
     Everton v Sporting Lisbon
     Hertha Berlin v Benfica

    First leg Feb 18, second Feb 25

    Fulham are in their first season of European football but their Ukrainian opponents are the de facto defending champions after winning last season's Uefa Cup before it was rebranded.

    Five-time European champions Liverpool and Unirea Urziceni, who were both eliminated from the Champions League, were paired in the round of 32, while Roma will meet Panathinaikos.

    "We would rather be in the Champions League but we're not," Liverpool club ambassador Kenny Dalglish said after Friday's draw.

    "We are where we are and we have just got to deal with it.

    "We will give it as good a go to try to win it as if it was the Champions League.

    "I think the boys will not let anyone down."

    Maximum points

    Red Bull Salzburg, the only team to gain the maximum 18 points from their six Europa League group matches, play Standard Liege.

    "Standard has a very good team, especially in attack," Salzburg coach Huub Stevens said.

    "They have great supporters, it can get real hot there."

    Salzburg were one of the 12 group winners to be favoured in the draw by playing their home match last in the round of 32.

    They get no such protection should they advance.

    Unirea also have the perceived advantage of playing second but general manager Mihai Stoica is not convinced that will be enough against opponents that won their fifth European Cup title in 2005 and reached the final two years later.

    "For us it, is a great experience," said Stoica, whose club reached Romania's top division just three years ago.

    "It is like David and Goliath.

    "For sure, we will line up with 11 Davids and maybe it is not enough."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How being rejected by my father a second time helped me heal

    How being rejected by my father a second time helped me heal

    He told me horror stories about my biological mother, told me he wanted to do better and then stopped speaking to me.

    'It ruined my life': School closures in Kenya lead to rise in FGM

    'It ruined my life': School closures in Kenya lead to rise in FGM

    With classrooms closed to curb coronavirus, girls are more at risk of FGM, teenage pregnancy and child marriage.

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    Faced with stigma and abuse, many children with disabilities are hidden indoors, with few options for specialised care.