Newcastle will be placed into Group 2. Who are their possible opponents?
One match is still left to contested in group play for the 2012-13 Europa League, since Sporting CP and Videoton were rained out Thursday. Basel achieved the result they needed to hold off Videoton from challenging for the second spot in Group G, however, making that fixture strictly academic. The seeding for the Round of 32 is therefore complete, and we now have a clearer picture of who Newcastle's opponent for the February 14/21 fixtures will be.
Because NUFC finished second in Group D, they have been placed in the Group 2 for the draw, which means they will host the first match (on February 14, so go ahead and start trying to line up a date) and travel for the second (on the 21st, naturally). They will be matched up against one of the teams making up Group 1. Lest you think this is an inherent disadvantage, realize that teams such as Atletico Madrid, Internazionale, and Napoli also make up the second group. Newcastle will eventually have to play very good teams if they wish to advance deep in the tournament, but the longer that is put off, the better. Of course, there are plenty of decent sides in the opposite group, as well as stadiums that nobody should ever want to visit as an opponent (Sukru Saracoglu in Istanbul and Stadio Olimpico in Rome, for example). Here's a list of all the teams in each group:
|Group 1||Group 2|
|Viktoria Plzen||Atletico Madrid|
|Metalist Kharkiv||Bayer Leverkusen|
|CFR Cluj||Dynamo Kiev|
|Olympiacos||Zenit St. Petersburg|
Because teams cannot be drawn against other teams from the same association or the same group in the Round of 32 (but can be thereafter), the field of possible opponents is narrowed to 13. We'll have a comprehensive preview of each possible opponent before the draw, which is to be held on December 20, so check back then.