Manchester United may not want to be in the Europa League – and they may not have to be for much longer following a tough last 32 draw.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have been drawn with Dutch side Ajax for their game, while rivals Manchster City have drawn Portuguese champions Porto.
United haven’t played Ajax in a competitive game since the 1977 UEFA Cup but United can expect a tough game against a side that only failed to qualify for the knockout stages because of their inferior goal difference to Lyon.
They have lost just two of their previous 13 games in all competitions and will be a stern test for whatever side Sir Alex Ferguson decides to field.
United are the 4/11 favourites to qualify but Ajax can be backed at 15/8 to complete United’s European misery and qualify at the expense of the English champions who have drifted to 9/1 to win the competition.
Meanwhile, City are the big 1/3 favourites to qualify against Porto and should have enough to negotiate what promises to be two very tough games.
The Portuguese side are another team to have dropped into the competition from the Champions League and they only failed to qualify for the knockout stages of Europe’s premiere competition because of a final game draw with Zenit St. Petersburg.
They can be backed at 11/5 to overcome Man City and qualify for the next round.
Finally, Stoke play Valencia and look set to exit the competition against the Spaniards.
The draw has seen Valencia installed as second favourites for the competition at 8/1 behind Man City who remain the favourites at 11/2.
Stoke have been excellent in the Europa League this year though and lost only one game in their group campaign – and that was their final game against Besiktas in which they rested the whole of their first XI.
The Potters can be backed at 10/3 to continue their Europa League adventure.