UEFA Europa League quarter finals: Early previews and predictions
The quarter and semi-final matchups for the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League have been decided and we have gotten some very interesting matchups.
A matchup worthy of being the final is already being served to fans at the quarter final stage and we are looking forward to it.
Ahead of the blockbuster matches in the middle of April, here are some early predictions and previews of the upcoming games.
Juventus vs Sporting: Bianconeri seek to blot out shameful season
Juventus will face Sporting CP for a chance at redemption in a season that has seen them fall to grass.
As punishment for some financial impropriety, the league football monitoring and organizing body in Italy docked them 15 points in Serie A. This punitive measure saw them drop all the way down to 15th on the log, at a point when they were struggling to win matches.
They were also knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in the group stages for the first time since 2009/10. A place in the quarter final of the Europa League is their statement to their detractors and a win over their opponents, Sporting, to seal a semi final spot could right every wrong they have done in the eyes of their fans this season.
Sporting clinched this game’s ticket with a penalty win over Arsenal but their manner is unsure, just like it was when they played in the Champions League a few months ago.
Like their opponents, a win will right all the wrongs they have done this season.
It is unlikely that they will win, however. Juventus will take the day after both legs.
Manchester United vs Sevilla: Final in the quarter final
Manchester United and Sevilla are the two favourites for this season’s Europa League title.
The Premier League club are favourites for their daring style of play and the LaLiga side are favourites for their history in the tournament.
The Spanish side have won the competition more times than anybody in its history, bagging six titles in total. The last of those came in 2020. It is important to note, however, that any time they scale through to the quarter finals of the competition, they go all the way to the finals.
This is the history that Manchester United will be dealing with come April 13 and 20, 2023.
United, however, can take solace in the fact that they have beaten Spanish teams in two straight matches leading up to this game. Sevilla will also be the fourth Spanish team they are facing in this season’s competition and they will be aiming to add them to their conquests.
They are also the more confident side going into the match as their general form is better than what Sevilla have shown in 2022/23. This is what will make for interesting viewing come April when both sides will battle for the ticket to face either Juventus or Sporting CP in the semi-finals.
This will be Erik ten Hag’s toughest test but Manchester United will take this one over two legs despite the best efforts of Sevilla.
Feyenoord vs AS Roma: A rematch of the inaugural UECL final
A match that many hoped to witness soon but did not expect is on the cards as the inaugural finalists of the UEFA European Conference League do battle for a spot in the Europa League semi finals.
Both teams know each other well, having fought a tough battle for the first ever European Conference League title in Albania last season.
The Italians came out on top via a 1-0 scoreline to become the first winners of the competition. Feyenoord, on the other hand, were let down for no fault of theirs on the day, but have since worked to make amends in the Europa League this season.
The Dutch team have scored the most goals in this season’s competition. Their last win was a 7-1 home demolition of Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk to seal their ticket to the quarter finals.
Roma, on the other hand, have fought well but hard in all their games, and almost looked to be going nowhere at times. Being faced with the prospect of losing a semi final spot to the team they beat to a title last season could be the push they need to buckle up going into the tie.
Attack-wise, the tie favours Feyenoord. Defence wise, Roma wins it.
We will go out on a limb and say that José Mourinho will prevail again in this matchup thanks to experience and the slightly higher quality of his team.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs Union Saint-Gilloise: Rookie manager Alonso to make history?
The last time Bayer 04 Leverkusen made it past the quarter finals of any European competition, manager Xavi Alonso was still playing football for Real Sociedad.
That was in 2001/02, when they faced off against Real Madrid – another club Alonso played for – in the final of the UEFA Champions League.
The last time they were in the quarter finals, Alonso was just starting out as a manager at Real Sociedad’s B-team. That was in 2019/20, when Inter Milan knocked them out of the Europa League.
Now, the rookie manager is set to make history with the German side to shut up his detractors as they prepare to take on Union Saint-Gilloise in another Europa League quarter final.
All eyes will be on Alonso and his exciting team, with talents who have caught the eyes of the biggest clubs in Europe. Should he remain at the club next season, he will most likely be playing with only 70% of his current setup.
Their opponents, the Belgian side, are looking to also make history as the first Belgian side to make it past the quarter final stage of a European competition in this millennium.
This is a match that all neutral eyes will be on but the outcome is clear: Xavi Alonso and Bayer 04 Leverkusen will progress to the semi finals over two legs.
Football Lover. All-round junkie of the beautiful game. Could be found watching football most of the time. If not he’s writing about them or making some punditry you don’t agree with. A certain bias for Arsenal and Santos FC.