Can a British team follow Chelsea in lifting the Europa League trophy?


The Europa League returns on Thursday with no less than five British teams entering the knockout stages with the aim of reaching the Stadium Energa Gdansk in May.

Manchester United, Celtic, Wolves, Arsenal and Rangers will all weigh up the importance of a potential European run against their domestic duties, and try to work out how best to approach this stage of & # 39; s competition, the Round of 32.

Here, Sportsmail looks at the prospects for each of the five, and what opportunities they have for going all the way to Poland.

Chelsea are the current holders of the Europa League trophy after defeating Arsenal last year

Manchester United

Next Up: Club Brugge

Schedule: Club Brugge v Manchester United, 5.55pm, February 20; Manchester United v Club Bruges, 8pm, February 27th

Historically, you would imagine that this will just sail for United – but little has been there for them of late.

Club Brugge doesn't have the best of records against English opposition – not to win one of their last 10 meetings against sides from England's top flight. Two of those clashes were against United in 2015, then – & # 39; under Louis van Gaal, the Red Devils' 7-1 victory went to aggregate to take their place in & # 39; group stages of & # 39; to seal a Champions League. It does not appear that it will be that simple this time.

Belgians fly on & # 39; top of & # 39; e Belgian First Division A, holding a nine-point lead at & # 39; the top of & # 39; e table, and will also be booed by some impressive displays during their Champions League championship.

They came close to a famous victory at Bernabeau, where they could not hold on to a 2-0 lead at the half, while Philippe Clement's men also rounded out well against Paris Saint-Germain, proving that they are not pushovers.

With United's defense suspected of being late, Emmanuel Dennis will be the front man in the hopes of taking advantage of signs of weakness.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer relies heavily on his youngsters to reach United to this stage

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer relies heavily on his youngsters to reach United to this stage

Can they go crazy?

After the trophy was lifted in 2017, Manchester United are keenly aware of what it will cost to seal the Europa League shine. It's just a question that they have the appetite for it this time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer certainly had his priorities elsewhere in the & # 39; group stage, after & # 39; he had felt 32 different players across the six clashes – more than any other side in & # 39; e competition. Eleven of these were teenagers, most of whom made their appearance during the smart trip to Astana.

Now in & # 39; knockout stages and with silverware on & # 39; e went, and not to mention a coveted Champions League spot, chances are United will provide the competition with due care and attention.

While the return of Eric Bailly to defense yesterday suggests that problems can be fixed, their current injury issues above could mean the main concerns will be who can deliver the goals to help them win the trophy to raise.

Trophy chances: 4/5


Next Up: Copenhagen

Schedule: Copenhagen v Celtic, 5.55pm, February 20; Celtic v Copenhagen, 8 pm, February 27

Celtic produced their best group performance in any league since 2012-13, topping Group E, thanks to an impressive double over Serie A title match Lazio, which did not record a win last year in Rome.

Their home form is placed in & # 39; s competition this season, with three wins out of three, however, that is not where the concern for Neil Lennon & # 39; s side lies.

Celtic are remarkably poor travelers in Europe and have not smashed the & # 39; s day victory in & # 39; knockout stages of every league since 2003, when they made it to the finals.

However, if there is one way or the other that can facilitate a change in this trend, then Copenhagen may be a willing volunteer. They have scored five goals so far in their six group matches. If the Scottish champions can keep quiet in Denmark, then progression can be a real possibility.

Celtic produced some impressive performances to finish top of their Europa League group

Celtic produced some impressive performances to finish top of their Europa League group

Can they go crazy?

Celtic Park on a European night makes every tie against the green half of Glasgow a formidable challenge, with both Inter and Zenit St Petersburg not winning in recent years.

However, as long as they continue to fight on away days across the continent, it is difficult to see Lennon and his men over the final stages of the tournament.

Opportunities for trophy: 2/5


Next Up: Espanyol

Schedule: Wolves v Espanyol, 20 p.m., Feb. 20; Espanyol v Wolves, 5.55pm, February 27th

Wolves were able to kick themselves after losing a 3-1 lead in Braga and thus the top spot in Group K, but on reflection this may have been a better draw for Nuno Espirito Santo and his men.

While Braga has a difficult tie against Steven Gerrard & # 39; s Rangers, Wolves will see an Espanyol side on two legs that are cut as Group H winners with only three wins and 11 points.

In all honesty, that number of victories is only one short of what they managed this season in La Liga, with the Catalan club rooted on & # 39; the bottom of & # 39; Spain's top flight – but things are looking up.

On their third manager of the season, Abelardo Fernandez finally appears to receive a Barcelona-based club, helped by the € 40 million spent in January on three new signings – Adrian Embarba, Raul the Thomas and center-back Leandro Cabrera.

Despite the additions, Wolves would have to lick their lips as it enters the last 16.

Wolves would rather have the chance to take Espanyol as opposed to a & # 39; Battle of Britain & # 39;

Wolves would rather have the chance to take Espanyol as opposed to a & # 39; Battle of Britain & # 39;

Can they go crazy?

As they have proven in the Premier League times and again under Santo, Wolves certainly have the opportunity to mix it with the best sides in Europe in their day.

There will be tougher tests than Espanyol on each run, but as both Arsenal and Manchester United can attest, they will not be afraid of any challenge that lies ahead.

Opportunities for trophy: 3/5


Next Up: Olympiakos

Schedule: Olympiakos v Arsenal, 20 p.m., Feb. 20; Arsenal v Olympiakos, 8 p.m., Feb. 27

These two must be sick of each other. This will be the ninth – and tenth – time these two have met in all European competitions.

Coming up against one of Europe's hostile atmospheres has proven too much for Arsenal in the past, with them winning on just one of their four visits to the Karaiskakis Stadium – although that was a 3-0 victory on their last trip in 2015.

However, any idea of ​​a similar outcome this time around can be fancy. Olympiakos have only dropped two points at home this season on the inside front and sit top of Super League Greece. Only Bayern Munich have won there this season, with Tottenham holding on to a 2-2 draw in their Champions League group stage.

Arseal finished top of their group, but faced a trusted enemy over the form of Olympiakos

Arseal finished top of their group, but faced a trusted enemy over the form of Olympiakos

Can they go crazy?

The look would probably have been gloomy if Unai Emery was still in & # 39; leadership, but a change in & # 39; e hotseat has given the Gunners new life and form under Mikel Arteta.

The vast majority of players know what it costs to make a final of & # 39; reached the Europa League, and played a part last year to Baku, where they were beaten by Chelsea.

A similar journey this time under another boss could still come to fruition.

Opportunities for trophy: 4/5


Next Up: Braga

Schedule: Rangers v Braga, 8 p.m., Feb. 20; Braga v Rangers, 5 pm February 26th

Rangers emerged from a difficult group with enormous credit to book their place in the Europa League knockout stages, with a memorable victory over Porto the highlight.

She now opposes another opponent of Primeira Liga in the form of Braga, who is domestically behind Porto in & # 39; sit at a table, but already fierce opponents have proved another of & # 39; hope of & # 39; e Europa League of Britain.

After winning at Molineux and coming home from home against Wolves, Braga has shown that they have the quality to take themselves seriously in this competition.

Steven Gerrard's men will be hoping that a packed Ibrox can help follow their path to the next round, but it will be key to keeping things tight on & # 39; the road as they face & # 39; the joint top scorers of the tournament are coming.

Alfredo Morelos was the key to getting Rangers so far, and will have to be at one & # 39;

Alfredo Morelos was the key to getting Rangers so far, and will have to be at one & # 39;

Can they go crazy?

Realistically, as with Celtic, there is only so far that you can participate in this competition, especially if the Champions League elite fails.

Another cause for concern will be the team’s performances since the winter stoppage. What should have been a December 29 final victory in & # 39; Old Business is not capitalized on and results after the winter break have seen them 10 points behind their bitter rivals in & # 39; a table.

Ask any Gers fan, and stopping the Celtic procession to ten-in-a-row would take precedence over any other triumphs that they have available.

Opportunities for trophy: 1/5



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