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Football fans across Europe and the rest of the world will set their focus on the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland where the draws for the continent’s club competitions will be conducted. That of the elite Champions League will be held from noon local time (same time in Nigeria), followed by the Europa League’s an hour later.

Expecting is high. Which “big” club face-off? And which less-fancied side take on a “giant”?

For the Champions League, the eight group winners will be seeded and host the second leg of their respective Round of 16 tie, while the 12 group winners in the Europa League group phase plus four best third-ranked teams in the Champions League group stage are the top teams in that second tier competition’s Round of 32 draw.

Seeded teams in the Champions League are:

  • Real Madrid, record 13-time winners of the competition, including being champions of the last three editions
  • Bayern München, five-time champions, the last time being in 2013
  • Barcelona, also five-time winners, 2015 being the last time
  • Juventus, twice winners (1985 and 1996)
  • FC Porto, champions in 1987 and 2004
  • Borussia Dortmund, who won it in 1997
  • Manchester City, semi-finalists in 2016 when Real Madrid triumphed 1-0 aggregate
  • Paris Saint-Germaine, who have never advanced beyond the Round of 16

In the unseeded hat will be the runners-up of the group stage:

  • Liverpool, winners on five occasions, the last being 2005
  • AFC Ajax, four-time champions, including three successive victories from 1971
  • Manchester United, champions in 1968, 1999 and 2008
  • Atlético Madrid, who were in the finals of 1974, 2014 and 2016, losing the last two to cross-town team Real Madrid
  • AS Roma, losing finalists to Liverpool in 1984
  • Tottenham Hotspur, twice quarterfinalists (2011 and 2013)
  • Olympique Lyonnais, quarterfinalists in 2005 and 2006
  • Schalke 04, quarterfinalists in 2008

By the rules, teams that featured in the same group or are of the same federation will avoid themselves in the Round of 16.

Possible opposition:

Liverpool’s opposition will come from Barcelona, Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, FC Porto or Real Madrid

Previous meetings
Barcelona P8 W3 D3 L2 F6 A6
Bayern P7 W2 D4 L1 F9 A7
Dortmund P5 W2 D2 L1 F8 A6
Juventus P6 W2 D1 L3 F4 A5
Porto P6 W3 D3 L0 F12 A2
Real Madrid P6 W3 D0 L3 F7 A7

AFC Ajax will challenge either Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester City, ParisSaint-Germaine, FC Porto or Real Madrid

Previous meetings
Barcelona P4 W1 D0 L3 F3 A10
Dortmund P4 W2 D0 L2 F4 A5
Juventus P12 W2 D4 L6 F9 A15
Manchester City P2 W1 D1 L0 F5 A3
PSG P2 W0 D1 L1 F2 A4
Porto P6 W1 D1 L4 F2 A6
Real Madrid P12 W4 D1 L7 F10 A24


Manchester United will go up against Barcelona, Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, FC Porto, Real Madrid or ParisSaint-Germaine

Previous meetings
Barcelona P11 W3 D4 L4 F15 A20
Bayern P11 W2 D5 L4 F13 A16
Dortmund P6 W3 D1 L2 F13 A5
Porto P8 W3 D3 L2 F14 A11
Real Madrid P11 W2 D4 L5 F17 A22

PSG No previous meeting

Atlético Madrid may face either Bayern München, Juventus, FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germaine or Manchester City

Previous meetings
Bayern P6 W2 D1 L3 F4 A8
Juventus P7 W2 D1 L4 F7 A10
Porto P8 W3 D3 L2 F8 A9


PSG No previous meeting

Manchester City No previous meeting

AS Roma will square up against either Barcelona, Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City,FC Porto or Paris Saint-Germaine

Previous meetings
Barcelona P6 W2 D2 L2 F10 A12
Bayern P6 W1 D0 L5 F5 A17
Dortmund P2 W1 D0 L1 F1 A2
Manchester City P2 W0 D1 L1 F1 A3
Porto P4 W0 D2 L2 F1 A6

PSG No previous meeting


Tottenham Hotspur will be up against Bayern München, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, FC Porto, Real Madrid orParis Saint-Germaine

Previous meetings
Bayern P4 W1 D1 L2 F4 A6
Dortmund P4 W2 D0 L2 F6 A7
Juventus P2 W0 D1 L1 F3 A4
Porto P2 W1 D1 L0 F3 A1
Real Madrid P6 W1 D2 L3 F4 A8

PSG No previous meeting

Olympique Lyonnais will take on either Barcelona, Bayern München, Juventus, FC Porto, Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund

Previous meetings
Barcelona P6 W0 D2 L4 F7 A16
Bayern P8 W2 D2 L4 F9 A11
Juventus P4 W0 D1 L3 F2 A5
Porto P4 W0 D1 L3 F2 A8
Real Madrid P10 W3 D4 L3 F11 A14


Dortmund No previous meeting

Schalke 04 will encounter either Barcelona, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germaine, Real Madrid or Juventus

Previous meetings
Barcelona P2 W0 D0 L2 F0 A2
Manchester City P3 W1 D0 L2 F2 A7
PSG P1 W1 D0 L0 F3 A1
Real Madrid P4 W1 D0 L3 F6 A11

Juventus No previous meeting

The first leg of these matches will hold next February 12, 13, 19 and 20, while the reverse fixtures come up on March 5, 6, 12 and 13.


The Champions League final will be stage at Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid on Saturday, June 1.

In the Europa League draw for the Round of 32, the seeded teams in former European champions Inter Milan, Benfica, Chelsea, Eintracht Frankfurt and Napoli.

Other top seeds are: Bayer Leverkusen, Red Bull Salzburg, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal, Real Betis, Villarreal, Genk, Sevilla, Dynamo Kyiv and Valencia

The unseeded teams are: FC Zürich, Celtic, SK Slavia Prague, Fenerbahçe, Sporting CP, Olympiacos, Rapid Wien, Lazio, Malmö FF, FC Krasnodar, StadeRennais, FC BATE Borisov, Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Shakhtar Donetsk andFC Viktoria Plzeň

According to the rules, no club will be drawn against a team that played in their group or a side from their own national association.


But any other restrictions will be announced ahead of the draw.

Seeded group winners are away in the first legs on February 14, 2019, while Return matches hold on a week later.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Hat-trick hero Lookman takes winding road to Europa League triumph



 Europa League - Final - Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland - May 22, 2024 Atalanta's Ademola Lookman poses for a picture with the trophy after winning the Europa League Final REUTERS/Paul Childs 

Atalanta’s Europa League hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman admitted that he had to wait a while for success after years in and out of favour at different clubs but said it was “just the beginning” after he sank Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

The Nigeria forward became the first person to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final in the 3-0 win, which handed the Bergamo club their first major trophy in 61 years and ended the German champions’ remarkable 51-game unbeaten streak.

“Maybe it could have come earlier, but it’s come now,” said the 26-year-old Lookman, who bounced around in England with Everton, Fulham and Leicester City and in Germany with RB Leipzig before settling in Atalanta two seasons ago.

“This is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this and to just keep getting better and better,” he told a news conference.

Lookman, who was a youth international for England, credited the Atalanta coaching staff and leadership of manager Gian Piero Gasperini for his revival. Since arriving at the club, he has scored 30 goals in 76 matches.


He pointed in particular to Gasperini’s belief in attacking football that has helped him to flourish.

“The first conversations I had with him made me look at football a lot different. It made things simple. It allowed me to play my game in a different light. I’m very grateful to him,” he said.

Asked if he would have imagined such a night in his wildest dreams while starting out as a teenager at Charlton Athletic, Lookman responded: “Probably yeah.”

“I’ve always had the confidence in my ability to create, to score goals, to help my team mates. In the past two years I’ve been able to take my game to a whole new level,” he said.



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Ademola is Player of the Match



Atalanta’s hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman was named Player of the Match after scoring a historic hat trick for his club in the Europa League final match.

 UEFA’s Technical Observer Panel said: “[It’s awarded] for obvious reasons and his all-round enthusiasm and energy. [He was] really sharp and his execution was spot on.”

Ademola Lookman, Player of the Match, speaking to TNT Sports: remarked: “It’s one of the best nights of my life. It was an amazing performance from the team. We did it – fantastic. I’m just happy we won. We made history tonight.”

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Nigeria’s Sports Minister salute Europa League hero, Ademola Lookman



Ademola Lookman, the history maker is held aloft

Nigeria’s  Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh, has showered encomiums on Super Eagles winger Ademola Lookman for his extraordinary performance in the Europa League final.

 Lookman scored a historic hat-trick, leading Atalanta to their first European title on Thursday night in Dublin, Ireland.

Lookman’s three goals secured a 3-0 victory for Atalanta against Bayer Leverkusen, ending their opponents’ 51-game undefeated streak and marking the first-ever hat-trick in a Europa League final.

This victory also signifies Atalanta’s second major trophy, their first since winning the Coppa Italia 61 years ago.

In his congratulatory message, Enoh praised Lookman’s exceptional talent and dedication, which have brought immense pride to Nigeria.


“Ademola Lookman has demonstrated remarkable skill and resilience, leading Atalanta to a historic victory. His performance in the Europa League final was nothing short of spectacular, and he has made Nigeria proud on the global stage. We celebrate his achievement and look forward to many more milestones in his career with club and country,” said Senator Enoh.

The Sports Minister also extended his congratulations to Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella, who played pivotal roles in leading Bayer Leverkusen to the final. Their contributions were integral in securing the German Bundesliga title, with the German Cup still within reach.

“Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella have also shown exceptional prowess and determination throughout the season. Their journey to the Europa League final and success in the Bundesliga is commendable. They serve as an inspiration to young athletes in Nigeria and around the world. I urge them to take pride in their performances and success this season,” Senator Enoh added.

The Nigerian football community celebrates these achievements, reflecting the growing influence and talent of Nigerian players in international football.

Lookman scored the opener in the 12th minute through superior sharpness, before hitting a brace with a fine curler in the 26th minute. He secured his hat trick in the 75th with a pile-driver hit of a goal.

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