Spanish teams have won the Europa League - or its precursor, the UEFA Cup - in five of the last 10 years and the country has three contenders for this season’s trophy heading into the last 16.
Two of them - Sevilla and Real Betis - have been drawn against each other, ensuring there will be a Seville derby for the first time in European competition.
The all-Italian matchup between Juventus and Fiorentina is set to be another highlight, along with Tottenham vs. Benfica.
Here are five things to know about the first legs of the Europa League’s last 16, which take place on Thursday:
SEVILLE DERBY TAKES EUROPEAN STAGE
After 86 years, one of Spain’s most explosive rivalries is finally taking place on the European stage.
Sevilla welcomes crosstown rival Real Betis to the Sanchez Pizjuan for the first leg in the 108th derby meeting between the Seville rivals, whose battles date back to the 1927/28 season.
A sometimes-violent fixture has toned down in recent seasons and neither club is in its brightest moment.
Betis remains alive in the Europa League despite sitting last in the Spanish league, and is coming off consecutive losses at Sevilla by a combined 9-1 score. Led by Croatia playmaker Ivan Rakitic, Sevilla has won four straight games in all competitions.
“If one team wins, it’s a disaster for the other, and vice versa,” Sevilla midfielder Jose Antonio Reyes said.
Valencia is the other Spanish team in the last 16, and will play Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad.
JUVE HUNGRY FOR FIORENTINA
Four days after beating Fiorentina to stay on course to retain the Serie A title, Juventus is hungry for another victory over its Italian rival - this time in the Europa League.