PARIS (AFP) – Celtic face a tricky Europa League last-32 tie after being drawn Monday against Italy’s Inter Milan as Liverpool take on gritty Turkish side Besiktas.
For former European heavyweights Liverpool it will be a return to Istanbul, the scene of their memorable 2005 Champions League final victory over AC Milan in which current skipper Steven Gerrard scored.
As for Celtic, they will rekindle their acquaintance with a side they fought the most famous match in the club’s history against – the 1967 European Cup final – which Jock Stein’s side, nicknamed the ‘Lisbon Lions’, won 2-1.
Celtic and Inter also met a second time in the semifinal of the tournament in 1972, with the Italians, who have won Europe’s second-tier competition three times, eventually beating the Scottish side on penalties.
Liverpool, also three-time winners, who were dumped out of the Champions League by Swiss side Basel last week, won their last meeting with Besiktas 8-0 in the 2007-08 elite European competition.
“It’s a difficult pairing. Liverpool are having some hard times now,” Besiktas striker Demba Ba said.
“They couldn’t get the results they desired and things are not going well for them. They are a team which try to strike fast and build up the game as quickly as possible.
“Their technical capacity is high and they are physically strong. If we can snatch a good result in the first leg, it will be an advantage to be playing the second leg at home.”
Titleholders Sevilla will be up against Borussia Moenchengladbach, fourth in the Bundesliga, in a tie between teams who have won the competition, or its predecessor the UEFA Cup, five times between them.
English side Tottenham, who won the second of their two titles 30 years ago, will take on Italy’s Fiorentina while Everton were drawn against Swiss side Young Boys in the first tie out of the UEFA pots in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday.
Spanish side Villarreal have drawn Salzburg, who they met in the 2009-10 group stage, with the Austrian outfit winning both games.
Guingamp, the only French club left in the competition, will play Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev as they look to continue their fairytale run following their first qualification for the Europa League last 32 by ending Paris Saint-Germain’s unbeaten Ligue 1 run this season on Sunday.
“Ten days ago we were in a bad way,” said Guingamp coach Jocelyn Gourvennec.
“For several weeks we had tough matches where nothing was going right. The slightest error we paid dearly.
“I set the goal to be qualified for the last 32 (Europa League) and be out of the red for Christmas … it’s an almost unhoped for situation.”
“Whatever the draw we’ll play to get through.”
Roma, second in Serie A, will face Feyenoord, while another Dutch side PSV Eindhoven take on Zenit St Petersburg and Ajax face Legia Warsaw.
Russian side Dynamo Moscow are up against modest Belgian outfit Anderlecht as Germany’s Wolfsburg take on Sporting
Lisbon, and Ukrainian side Dniepropetrovsk have drawn Olympiakos of Greece.
Wolfsburg vs Sporting Lisbon, Napoli vs Trabzonspor and Torino vs Athletic Bilbao are also among the matches drawn by former Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino.
The first-leg matches will be played on February 19, with the return fixtures seven days later.