“Shitty draw” – well-known opponents for German teams

On Thursday Freiburg and Leverkusen meet West Ham United and Qarabağ Ağdam. The opponents are old friends from the group phase.

The season is entering the home stretch. While SC Freiburg is fighting to reach the international places in the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen is waiting for the first championship in the club’s history.

But both Freiburg and Leverkusen still have the chance to win a title on the international stage. Bayer Leverkusen qualified directly for the round of 16 in the group phase of the Europa League thanks to first place. SC had to take the detour via the playoffs and beat the Champions League relegated Lens in a dramatic second leg.

Curiously enough, when the first leg of the round of 16 starts this Thursday, both teams will see their opponents from the group stage again. While Freiburg has already had to duel with West Ham United twice, Bayer is making another trip to Azerbaijan to face Qarabağ Ağdam.

Theoretically eight out of eight reunions possible

But it’s not just German teams that are “affected” by such renewed clashes. Atalanta Bergamo and Sporting Lisbon, who played their first leg yesterday (Wednesday) (final score 1-1), also know each other from the preliminary round.

These duels are made possible because the playoffs are a round between the group phase and the round of 16, in which the runners-up in the Europa League duel with the third-placed teams from the Champions League. In fact, there is no blocking of those same clashes for the draw for the round of 16 pairings. Theoretically, there could have been not just three, but eight out of eight reunions – provided that the group runner-up in the Europa League would always have prevailed.

Expert criticizes: “As a fan you always see the same thing”

With SC Freiburg, Qarabağ Ağdam, Sporting Lisbon, Sparta Prague, Olympique Marseille and AS Roma, at least six out of eight Europa League clubs prevailed against the Champions League relegated teams.

Many fans criticize the “boredom” and the recurring duels, especially since Union Berlin suffered the same fate last year. The last 16 was against Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.

Tobias Escher, tactics expert and presenter of the soccer show “Bohndesliga” on Rocket Beans TV, even spoke of a “shitty draw.” “With Freiburg you can at least include the idea of ​​revenge a little bit, since they lost both games in the group phase. But as a fan you always see the same thing. That’s totally annoying,” the expert continued.

Christian Günter, Freiburg captain, also described the draw as “kind of stupid. Some of us were really upset,” said Günter on “SC Freiburg TV”. However, it will be his first trip to London, as he missed the preliminary round duels with West Ham last year due to injury.