The draw for the last 8 of the Europa League is this evening. Here’s a glance at who we could be facing next and our chances assessed….
A win each against each other in the League. It could come down to where both are in the Prem come next round. The further away from 4th, the more important this tie becomes. If one/or both are in top 4 by time of Finals, the pressure is off.
Napoli – Unlike last year when Sarri sacrificed this competition to try and win Serie A, the Italians are giving this tournament a real try. We would have to dramatically improve our away form to beat them over two legs.
Valencia – 7th in La Liga having been better in second half of season. More well organised and hard to break down rather than having any flair to fear.
Benfica – Involved in a fascinating title race in Portugal, so a team not used to losing often. They don’t travel well though, losing in the last round at Dinamo Zagreb, meaning we be favourites over two legs.
Slavia Prague – The last time we played, we beat them 7-0 at home before drawing 0-0 away in the only time they featured in the Champions League group stage. They are one round away from matching their best ever achievement in Europe, the semi-final of the UEFA cup in the early nineties. They have the benefit of no expectation, nothing to lose and everything to gain. Them at the Emirates for the first leg would be the kindest draw.
Villarreal– Being in the last 8 of the Europa League contradicts domestic form where they are 17th. While being in a relegation fight means it’s unlikely they will continue Spain’s dominance of this competition, they are treating it as the escape they need from La Liga, and the one opportunity to rescue their season from being a nightmare.
Frankfurt – Once a power house in Germany, have slowly rebuilt themselves over the years, winning their domestic cup for the first time in 3 decades. They beat Bayern Munich in that final and won at Inter, so are getting used to high stakes. They would be dangerous to play in terms of the pressure would be off them but we would be favourites.
Who would you like us to draw?