Europa League Draw: Chelsea Draw Sparta Prague, Liverpool Face Zenit

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2012

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 13:  Juan Mata of Chelsea celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 during the FIFA Club World Cup Semi Final match between CF Monterrey and Chelsea at International Stadium Yokohama on December 13, 2012 in Yokohama, Japan.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

All of the attention on Thursday morning in the world of football was given to the draw for the UEFA , and rightfully so. 

However, there was another draw held on Thursday that provided plenty of intrigue. 

The draw for the UEFA Europa League round of 32 was held after the more prestigious draw concluded.

In the Europa League, there are four English clubs vying to call themselves champions of that tournament.

The most noteworthy of those teams has to be Chelsea, who qualified for this round by finishing third in their Champions League group.

The draw consisted of the 12 group stage winners, 12 group stage runners-up from the Europa League and the eight third-place finishers from the Champions League group stage.

Chelsea were drawn against Sparta Prague, who finished second in the Europa League's Group I behind French powerhouse Lyon. 

The first leg of the matchup between Rafa Benitez's Blues and their Czech opponents will take place on February 14 in Prague; the two clubs will meet seven days later at Stamford Bridge.

The winner of the Chelsea-Sparta Prague matchup will face the winner of the Ajax-Steaua Bucharest tie in the round of 16. 

Tottenham's Hugo Lloris will get to return to his old stomping grounds, the Stade de Gerland in Lyon, during the second leg of his club's round of 32 tie. 

Spurs were drawn against seven-time French champions Lyon and will face the winner of the Inter Milan-Cluj tie in the round of 16. 

Newcastle and Liverpool are both headed to Eastern Europe for their round of 32 clashes with Metalist Kharkiv and Zenit St. Petersburg. 

The Magpies will host Metalist at St. James' Park on February 14 before making the trek to the Ukraine for the second leg a week later. 

If Alan Pardew's club advance to the round of 16, they will face the winner of the Anzhi Makhachkala-Hannover tie. 

Liverpool were given the most difficult draw of all the English clubs involved in the round of 32 as they will face the 2008 winners of the competition, Zenit St. Petersburg.

The first leg of their matchup will be played on a cold winter night at the Petrovsky Stadium on February 14. 

Brendan Rodgers' club will then host the Russian champions at Anfield a week later. 

As for the Reds' potential round of 16 opponents, it will be either FC Basel or Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Other key in the round of 32 include defending champions Atletico Madrid facing off against Rubin Kazan and Napoli taking on Viktoria Plzen. 

Here is the draw for the round of 32 and round of 16.

Round of 32

BATE Borisov vs. Fenerbahce

Inter Milan vs.  CFR Cluj

Levante vs. Olympiakos

Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Liverpool

Dynamo Kiev vs. Bordeaux

Bayer Leverkeusen vs. Benfica

Newcastle United vs. Metalist Kharkiv

Stuttgart vs. Genk

Atletico Madrid vs. Rubin Kazan

Ajax vs, Steaua Bucharest

FC Basel vs. Dnipro

Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Hannover

Sparta Prague vs. Chelsea

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Lazio

Tottenham vs. Lyon

Napoli vs. Viktoria Plzen

Round of 16

Napoli vs.Viktoria Plzen winner vs. BATE Borisov vs. Fenerbahce winner

Dynamo Kiev vs. Bordeaux winner vs. Bayer Leverkeusen vs. Benfica winner 

Newcastle United vs. Metalist Kharkiv winner vs. Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Hannover winner

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Lazio winner vs. Stuttgart vs. Genk winner

Inter Milan vs. CFR Cluj winner vs. Tottenham vs. Lyon winner

Atletico Madrid vs. Rubin Kazan winner vs. Levante vs. Olympiakos winner 

Zenit St. Petersburg vs. Liverpool winner vs. FC Basel vs. Dnipro winner

Sparta Prague vs. Chelsea winner vs. Ajax vs. Steaua Bucharest winner


What do you think of the Europa League draw?

Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter @JTansey90.