Share “A lookahead to the Europa League...”

A lookahead to the Europa League quarterfinals

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 2, 2014 at 12:03 am •  Published: April 2, 2014
Advertisement

Portugal and Spain have provided at least one team in nine of the past 11 finals of the UEFA Cup or Europa League and the two countries dominate the quarterfinal lineup for this year's competition.

The Portuguese pair of Benfica and Porto and Spanish sides Valencia and Sevilla are battling for supremacy in Europe's second-tier competition with Juventus, which is the biggest name in the last eight and seeking to reach a final that will be played in its home stadium in Turin.

The first legs take place on Thursday, with Juventus — the leader by 11 points in the Italian league — visiting Lyon. FC Porto hosts Sevilla in the other standout quarterfinal, while it's also FC Basel vs. Valencia and AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica.

Here is a lookahead to Thursday's games:

___

LYON-JUVENTUS

Eliminating Juventus, the big tournament favorite, will be an uphill battle for a depleted and exhausted Lyon.

For its 52nd game this season, the French side will be without defenders Milan Bisevac, Samuel Umtiti, Miguel Lopes and Mouhamadou Dabo, and midfielders Gueida Fofana, Clement Grenier and Yoann Gourcuff.

While Lyon is fifth in Ligue 1, Juventus is the runaway leader in Serie A despite a 2-0 loss to Napoli at the weekend.

Juventus striker Carlos Tevez, the top scorer in the Italian league with 18 goals, was suspended for the Napoli match but should return for Lyon as the Argentina international seeks a first goal in European competition since April 2009.

___

FC BASEL-VALENCIA

The sounds of Basel vs. Valencia will echo around an empty 38,000-capacity St. Jakob Park stadium.

UEFA ordered the first leg to be played without fans as punishment after Basel supporters temporarily stopped play during its 2-1 win at Salzburg two weeks ago. After Swiss fans threw fireworks on the pitch in the first half, the referee took both teams to the locker rooms.

Basel is making its second straight run at the Europa League title, after being eliminated in the semifinals by eventual winner Chelsea one year ago.

While the league-leading Swiss champion can probably look forward to more Champions League football next season, Valencia might need to win this trophy to return to European competition.

Valencia is in a group of teams chasing eighth place in the Spanish league which could earn the last Europa League qualifying spot.

Continue reading this story on the...