Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen have caught attractive lots for the intermediate round in the Europa League. At the start of the knockout phase of the European Cup, the Köpenickers will face Dutch top club Ajax Amsterdam. The Werkself are playing against AS Monaco for a place in the round of 16. That was the result of the draw on Monday at UEFA headquarters in Nyon.
The duel with the six-time European Cup winner and current Dutch champion is particularly interesting for Union's top attacker Sheraldo Becker. He was educated in the famous Ajax football school. For Leverkusen, the encounter with the fifth in France's league will be a reunion with former Bayer goalscorer Kevin Volland.
The first leg will take place on February 16. The second leg was scheduled for February 23. Union first plays away and then at home, for Leverkusen it's the other way around.
Reaching the next round is the greatest international success of the Berliners. Last year, the Irons were eliminated in the group stage of the Conference League. In 2001 the UEFA Cup ended after two rounds against the Bulgarian club Litex Lovech. Leverkusen had missed the round of 16 in the Champions League. As third in the group, coach Xabi Alonso's team is relegated to the Europa League.
The most dazzling intermediate round game in the Europa League is FC Barcelona's duel between Robert Lewandowski and Manchester United, which is currently still busy with Cristiano Ronaldo.