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UEFA Europa League Quarter-Finals Preview

Paul Pogba will look to inspire United to victory in the UEFA Europa League

The Europa League quarter-finals are upon us and the final eight teams take it to the field in their first showdown of two matches.

The favourites to win the trophy, Manchester United, have drawn the best end of the stick to face Granada. Arsenal have yet to taste European glory and are on track yet again for a possible trophy, while Villarreal’s Unai Emery looks to take his Europa League trophy count to four.

Who will take it to the field and come out on top?

Let’s take a look at how the teams in question matchup.

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Thursday 8 April

Granada 46/10
Draw 26/10
Manchester United 13/20
(21:00)

Manchester United booked their last-eight spot with a 3-1 aggregate victory over AC Milan thanks to Paul Pogba’s winning-goal in the second leg at the San Siro. United’s reward for beating the Italian giants in the last 16 is a tie against the favourable Europa League debutants, Granada. The Red Devils’ last won the competition in 2017 when they defeated Ajax 2-0 at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, who they could face in the semi-finals, should they avoid the biggest possible upset in the quarter-finals.

Ole Gunner Solsjkaer has taken some heat from media and the fans alike as former boss Sir Alex Ferguson would never allow for such in his reign, allowing Marcus Rashford to go on international duty even though he missed his last club fixture in a 3-1 defeat to Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Fortunately, for the United boss, Rashford was sent back by Gareth Southgate to the club for ongoing rehabilitation on his ankle injury. Solsjkaer is still missing Juan Mata since the start of the year and Phil Jones since the start of the season, but the rest of the squad is fit and ready for selection in the upcoming fixture (at the time of writing).

Head coach Diego Martinez has brought Granada to heights they could have never imagined within such a short frame of time. After being promoted to La Liga in 2019, they finished seventh to squeeze Valencia out of European competition and enter the Europa League. This is the Nazarie’s first taste of the Europa League and they have made an absolute meal of it. In the round of 32, they defeated Napoli, winning 2-0 at home and then losing 2-1 away (3-2 agg.), and then replicated those results in the round of 16 against Molde to progress to the quarter-finals to face their biggest challenge yet against English royalty. Back Manchester United and Over 1.5 goals at 21/20.

Ajax 11/10
Draw 26/10
AS Roma 9/4
(21:00)

The most heavily contested match of the Europa League quarter-finals is without question Ajax vs Roma. Ajax last revelled in European glory in 1995 and came within touching distance of the Europa League trophy when they lost the 2017 final against Manchester United. The Sons of the gods dropped out of the Champions League group stages when they lost the deciding match 1-0 to Atalanta, and proceeded to make light work of Swiss champions, BSC Young Boys, in their round of 32 fixture by defeating them five goals to nil on aggregate. Head coach Erik ten Hag will have his eyes focused on what lays before him in a tough opponent, AS Roma.

Roma has breezed past their last two opponents, having netted 10 goals and conceding just two, winning 5-1 on aggregate to beat Sporting Braga in round of 32, and copying that dominant result against Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16. Leading goalscorer for the quarter-final teams that remain, Borja Mayoral, will look to add to his seven-goal tally in the upcoming tie. Ajax at home, are a force to reckon with, and a win at 11/10 is the punt.

Arsenal 5/10
Draw 33/10
Slavia Prague 52/10
(21:00)

The last time Arsenal faced Slavia Prague was in the 2007 Champions League group stages where their first encounter ended with Arsenal massacring the Czech’s seven goals to nil at the Emirates Stadium, and in the second matchup of the group stages, Slavia Prague held the Gunners to a 0-0 draw on their home turf. Nearly 15 years later, the two lock horns once again.

Arsenal got handed their first Europa League defeat in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie this season by the same opponents who knocked them out the competition in their prior run at European silverware. The Gunners did however get the revenge they sought out against Olympiacos, beating the Greek outfit 3-2 on aggregate. Mikel Arteta’s squad have been up and down all season, and with the Europa League being their last hope left at silverware, you can expect the Arsenal boss to go in all guns blazing in this matchup.

Slavia Prague have been in outstanding form in all competitions this season, scoring over 100 goals. Their biggest win being a 10-3 victory in the round of 16 of the Czech Cup. The Czech team have not lost a league match since March 1st of 2020 and have only lost four matches in the last two years. You would consider them the Bayern Munich of their league. My bet, and yours should be too, is Arsenal to Win and Over 1.5 Goals at 8/10.

Dinamo Zagreb 9/4
Draw 9/4
Villarreal 5/4
(21:00)

The most unforeseen victors in the second leg of the round of 16 would have to go to Dinamo Zagreb for their emphatic win over Tottenham Hotspur, to come back from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 on aggregate. On the other hand, we have Villarreal, who breezed through their tie with a 4-1 aggregate, with the competition’s most successful manager at its helm, Unai Emery with three titles.

Dinamo Zagreb had not lost a match in the Europa League and only conceded three goals up until the 2-0 defeat to London’s Spurs. Coach Damir Krznar rallied his boys and went head-to-head with one of the most decorated coaches in world football to great success in their second leg fixture. The Citizens have had another championship run in their domestic league, amassing 19 wins, three draws and three losses, and they have translated that into their European performances.

Villarreal have had a flawless run in the Europa League, rivalling their current opponents’ form, winning nine out of their 10 matches played, drawing one, and finally conceding six goals in the process. Unai Emery will be on the hunt to become the competitions all-time winning coach, with this campaign being his possible fourth trophy. Emery seems to be destined for success in this tournament, and with his striker Gerard Moreno on 16 goals this season, he has the backing of an in-form attacking player. The away win at 5/4 is a great punt on the Yellow Submarine.

TREBLE @ 7/1
Man United Win & Over 1.5 21/20
Arsenal Win & Over 1.5 8/10
Villarreal Win 5/4

Written by Joshua Gaillard