Jack Wilshere

By Chip Kidger
21st March 2018 at 12:13pm

After last week’s Quarter Final draw, eight teams remain in the hunt to lift the Europa League trophy in Lyon.

Here’s our early look at the four ties…

Arsenal v CSKA Moscow

Arsene Wenger banished memories of the worst spell of his 22-year reign at the helm of Arsenal by successfully negotiating two tricky legs 5-1 on aggregate against AC Milan to advance to the Quarter Finals.

The Frenchman will be hoping his side can play with similar swagger at the Emirates in the first leg of this tie to effectively book their semi-final slot. If not, they will face a difficult trip to Moscow with the tie on a knife-edge. CSKA will be no pushovers after knocking out a Lyon side who were desperate to reach a final being hosted at their own ground.

Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid v Sporting Lisboa

Arsenal will be in little doubt as to which side offers the biggest threat to their Europa League chances this season. 2016 Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid have had to settle for a tilt at UEFA’s secondary competition this campaign following their shock UCL group stage elimination and have been installed as firm favourites to lift the Europa League trophy in May.

Diego Simeone will be wary, however, of a Sporting side who made a courageous fight of a difficult Champions League group, beating Olympiacos home and away, drawing with Juventus and only narrowly losing both home and away to group winners Barcelona. In the last round, Sporting overcame a dogged Viktoria Plzeň side to book their slot in the Quarter Final and will be leaning on the menacing presence of 6’5 striker Bas Dost to create an upset here.

Lazio v Red Bull Salzburg

UEFA avoided a diplomatic headache as the two RB sides were kept apart at the Quarter Final stage, and it’s Salzburg who look to have the tougher test of the two stablemates against a Lazio side who are on track to secure a Champions League qualification slot in Serie A for the first time since 2015.

Simone Inzaghi’s side have demonstrated some impressive form in this tournament, comfortably winning their group, before easing through tricky looking ties against Steaua Bucharest and Dynamo Kiev. They could be ones to watch as the tournament progresses.

Red Bull Salzburg pulled off perhaps the surprise upset of the last round, heading into the cauldron-like atmosphere of the Westfalenstadion and emerging with a hugely credible 2-1 victory against Borussia Dortmund. They subsequently shut out their German opponents 0-0 on home soil and are the only remaining team to not lose a single game in this year’s competition.

Dmitri Payet, Marseille

RB Leipzig v Marseille

RB Leipzig haven’t quite hit the heights of last season in their domestic campaign (they currently sit in sixth after finishing runners-up in 2017) but have certainly enjoyed their first shot at European football this campaign after a meteoric rise since their formation in 2009. After finishing third in their Champions League group to earn a second bite in the Europa League, the German side have knocked out highly-fancied Napoli and Zenit St Petersburg in reaching the Quarter Finals and will start out as marginal favourites in this one.

Marseille currently sit in third place in Ligue 1, and have made steady progress in the Europa League this season under the wily management of Rudi Garcia, comfortably seeing off Athletic Bilbao 5-2 in the round of 16. They will be relying on the goalscoring form of winger Lucas Ocampos and former West Ham man Dmitri Payet as they look to reach a first Europa League final since 2004.

All image sources from PA Images

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