The risk of fan violence looked high in the last 16 of the Europa League after Friday’s draw produced a volatile matchup between Manchester United and Rostov.
Russian and English fans clashed in Marseille last year during the European Championships, and the Red Devils and Rostov are followed by vicious firms of hardcore fans.
According to UEFA coefficients, Rostov is the lowest-ranked team left in the tournament but it finished second in the Russian league last season and beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage last November.
United, the only remaining English club, is a three-time European champion but has never won the second-tier tournament.
“It will be a nice experience, we will have the chance to play at Old Trafford,” said Rostov midfielder Andrei Prepelita. “They have top players and a top coach, but we’ve had good results and we beat Bayern. It is good to play the first leg at home and I hope the cold weather will be on our side.”
The draw also pitted Gent against Genk, only the second all-Belgian matchup in the history of UEFA competitions.
French side Lyon will be up against Roma, and there will be an all-German showdown between Schalke and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Lyon advanced to the last 16 by thrashing AZ Alkmaar 11-2 over two legs, the second biggest aggregate in the competition’s history. Lyon and Roma met in the 2007 Champions League round of 16, when the Italian side prevailed 2-0 on aggregate.
Also, it was: Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar, APOEL vs. Anderlecht, Olympiacos vs. Besiktas and Copenhagen vs. Ajax.
The first legs will be on March 9, and the return legs a week later.
The final will be in Stockholm on May 24. The winner gains entry to the Champions League.