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The battle to reach the knockout stages continues in the Europa League
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Europa League: Juventus and Monaco aim for last-16 spots

Europa League action returns on Thursday with a number of top teams among those battling to reach the last-16 of the competition.

Two former Champions League heavyweights find themselves in the knockout round play-offs as Manchester United host Barcelona at Old Trafford, while the likes of Juventus and Ajax are also in action after dropping down from the Champions League. 

Juve look to edge out Nantes

WhatNantes v Juventus
WhereStade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
When17:45, Thursday 23rd February
How to watchBT Sport 3
OddsNantes 15/4, Draw 5/2, Juventus 4/5

The tie between Nantes and Juventus is nicely poised at 1-1 ahead of the second leg at the Stade de la Beaujoire on Thursday. 

Dusan Vlahovic has been the main man for Juve this season and his goal gave the Old Lady the lead in Turin before Ludovic Blas bagged the equaliser for the visitors. 

Unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, Juve are in strong form as they prepare to make the trip to France. 

Nantes suffered a 3-1 defeat at Lens in Ligue 1 at the weekend to leave them in 13th place in the French top flight. 

Juve should have the quality to finish the job against a Nantes side that have been guilty of inconsistency at times this season. 

In-form Monaco to make home comforts count

WhatMonaco v Bayer Leverkusen
WhereStade Louis II, Monaco
When17:45, Thursday 23rd February
How to watchBT Sport 7
OddsMonaco 6/5, Draw 5/2, Bayer Leverkusen 11/5

Monaco triumphed 3-2 last week at the BayArena and their current form suggests they can back it up when Bayer Leverkusen head to the Principality on Thursday.

Les Rouge et Blanc have not been beaten in 90 minutes since the European season resumed, only going down to Rodez on penalties in the Coupe de France and they have scored a total of 13 goals in their last three home games in Ligue 1.

That run includes a 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in which Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice. He also netted a hat-trick against Ajaccio and while there is a chance he could start on the bench here, the striker is sure to get some minutes and is 7/5 in the Anytime Goalscorers market.

Ben Yedder has scored three of Monaco's 12 goals in the tournament and he and his attacking colleagues will be excited by the prospect of taking on a defence that has not kept a clean sheet since October.

After winning 3-2 in Germany, Monaco are 22/1 to repeat that Correct Score and should have too much at home, so another victory at 6/5 seems sensible.

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Work for Roma to do

WhatRoma v FC Salzburg
WhereStadio Olimpico, Rome
When20:00, Thursday 23rd February
How to watchBT Sport 4
OddsRoma 13/20, Draw 14/5, FC Salzburg 9/2

Roma have plenty of work to do if they are to reach the last-16 of the Europa League as they find themselves a goal down after the first leg in Salzburg. 

A feisty atmosphere is expected at the Stadio Olimpico as Jose Mourinho's side look to overturn the deficit from Nicolas Capaldo's goal in the first leg. 

With five wins in their last six home games in all competitions, Roma's form in the Italian capital has been impressive. Roma are available at 1/1 to qualify for the last-16.  

Union favourites to take down Ajax

WhatUnion Berlin v Ajax
WhereStadion An der Alten Försterei, Berlin
When20:00, Thursday 23rd February
How to watchBT Sport 6
OddsUnion Berlin 6/5, Draw 9/4, Ajax 12/5

Union Berlin have been one of the surprise packages in the Bundesliga this season and they will be eager to raise more eyebrows in the Europa League when they host Ajax. 

Currently level with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table, Union played out a goalless draw in their first leg encounter in Amsterdam. 

Back in the home comforts of the German capital, Union will be confident of taking down the Dutch giants.

Union, who have shown significant progress under Swiss coach Urs Fischer, are unbeaten in their last 11 competitive games at Stadion An der Alten Forsterei and are available at 6/5 to overcome Ajax in 90 minutes on Thursday. 

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