Man Utd, Arsenal set for Europa League quarters
Manchester United head to Spanish surprise package Granada while Arsenal take on Slavia Prague, but Ajax against Roma may be the tie of the round.
AFP Sport looks ahead to the Europa League quarter-finals ahead of the first legs on Thursday at 1900 GMT:
– Emery the Europa League expert –
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) v Villarreal (ESP)
Unai Emery won the Europa League in three consecutive years with Sevilla and took Arsenal to the 2019 final. When he was appointed by Villarreal last summer he said he dreamed of winning a trophy with a club that has been one of the most consistent in Spain in the last 15 years, with nine top-five finishes in La Liga. There have been four European semi-finals too, but they have never won a major trophy or reached a final.
With Emery, they are currently sixth in La Liga and have been excellent in Europe, cruising through their group before eliminating Red Bull Salzburg and Dynamo Kiev. Now they face perennial Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb who are enjoying their best European run since the 1960s after stunning Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur in the last 16.
Croatian international Mislav Orsic is the man to watch after his brilliant hat-trick did for Spurs.
– Ajax eyeing another final –
Ajax (NED) v Roma (ITA)
On paper this is the tie of round, as the runaway Dutch league leaders welcome visitors from Serie A to Amsterdam for the first leg.
Four-time European champions Ajax are enjoying another deep run in continental competition soon after reaching the Europa League final in 2017 and the Champions League semi-finals in 2019. Erik ten Hag was in charge two years ago and is still at the helm now with Ajax beating Lille and Young Boys after dropping out of the Champions League in the group stage.
Roma’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League from Serie A have been hit by a slump in form so the opportunity to get there by winning this competition should not be sniffed at. They have already eliminated Braga and Shakhtar Donetsk in the knockout rounds…..read more