This week’s continental smorgasbord continues with the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday, kicking off with four first-leg fixtures involving the eight remaining contenders. Premier League giants Manchester United and Arsenal remain favorites to face off in the final, with Granada and Slavia Prague each targeting major upsets against their respective opponents.
Ajax host AS Roma first up in what looks the tightest tie of the round, while Villarreal travel to Dinamo Zagreb hoping to keep the Europa League title in Spain.
What TV Channel are the Europa League Quarter-Finals On?
Each of Thursday’s simultaneous first-leg kickoffs will be available to watch via TUDN, Galavision or UniMás. You can live stream Europa League matches on fuboTV.
UEL Quarter-Final Schedule (First Leg)
Thursday, April 8
Granada vs. Manchester United, 3 p.m. ET (UniMás)
Arsenal vs. Slavia Prague, 3 p.m. ET (TUDN)
Ajax vs. AS Roma, 3 p.m. ET (Galavision)
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Villarreal, 3 p.m. ET (TUDNxtra)
Granada vs. Manchester United
After numerous near misses in the latter stages of cup competitions, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to break new boundaries as United manager against a European debutant in Granada. The Red Devils made it to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in Solskjaer’s first season before a Europa League semi-final last term, which will be considered the bare minimum for his side in 2021.
Leicester City also recently ousted United from the FA Cup quarter-finals—their first defeat in 14 games—but the 2017 Europa League champions responded with a 2-1 comeback win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday:
Granada booked home wins over Napoli and Molde earlier in the knockout stages to reach this point, but it bodes menacingly that they’ve followed each up with second-leg defeats on the road. United forward Anthony Martial will sit out both legs of the quarter-final and could be out for the rest of the season following a knee injury on international duty, the club has announced. Marcus Rashford’s fitness is in question after the win over Brighton, and Eric Bailly will miss out following a positive COVID-19 test.
Paul Pogba came up with the crucial decider when United beat AC Milan 2-1 on aggregate to progress through the round of 16, and the World Cup winner will be counted on to make more key contributions in Spain:
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker Roberto Soldado and winger Kenedy (on loan from Chelsea) will be familiar faces to their English opposition. Midfielder Yangel Herrera is also on loan from Manchester City, though he’s yet to make an appearance for the Premier League leaders.
Arsenal vs. Slavia Prague
Mikel Arteta will consider it a must to win Thursday’s opening leg against Slavia Prague after his Arsenal side failed to do so in their last three games across all competitions. The Gunners’ misfiring run began with a second-leg 1-0 defeat at home to Olympiacos in the last 16, more recently following that up with a 3-0 humbling against Liverpool.
This marks the first time since March 2018 that Arsenal have failed to score in consecutive home outings, a record Slavia would be only too happy to extend considering they’ve kept four straight clean sheets. The Czech champions were walloped 7-0 in their only previous trip to the Emirates (October 2007), but their north London hosts don’t pose quite the same threat nowadays.
Slavia center-back Ondrej Kudela hasn’t made the trip to England while he’s under investigation for alleged racist abuse of Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara in the last round. Kudela—who launched his own complaint of assault against Kamara—was due to be questioned by UK police upon returning, but a suspension due to the investigation meant he wouldn’t have played anyway:
Injuries to David Luiz and Kieran Tierney won’t aid Arsenal’s chances in defense, with Granit Xhaka in a race to be fit following illness. Central defender Gabriel looked out of his depth against Liverpool and could swap out in favor of Pablo Mari, while Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are hoping to contend for places as they regain fitness.
Arteta knows the Europa League title presents his most likely route to next season’s Champions League, with the Gunners currently 10 points off the top-four race in England. Slavia have already surprised two British contenders in Leicester (last 32) and Rangers (last 16), however, and manager Jindrich Tripisovsky would revel in rejecting another household name.
Ajax vs. AS Roma
Both Ajax and AS Roma will contest a European quarter-final for only the fourth time since the turn of the century, a difficult truth for two clubs of such high renown. For the Dutch giants, a Europa League runner-up finish in 2017 and a Champions League semi-final in 2019 represents the best of those accomplishments.
It’s been 30 years since the Giallorossi reached their last European final, a drought Paulo Fonseca hopes to end in only his second season at the Stadio Olimpico. The Portuguese beat former employers Shakhtar Donetsk in both legs to advance from the round of 16, but beating an Ajax outfit on a historic unbeaten run should prove all the more testing:
The Godenzonen have failed to win only three of those 24 games on their current streak, while Roma have just one win from their last four and have been defeated twice in that time. Fonseca’s men have managed to rustle up just two clean sheets in their last 13 trips outside the Olimpico, while the only teams to prevent Ajax scoring at home this season were Liverpool and another Italian foe, Atalanta.
Ajax striker Sebastien Haller remains unavailable for Ajax due to an administrative error in the Europa League. Goalkeeper Andre Onana is also suspended due to a doping offense, per CNN, which means Maarten Stekelenburg could suit up between the posts against his old club.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (calf) and Chris Smalling (fitness) will each miss the visit to Amsterdam through injury, while winger Stephan El Shaarawy looks likely to be sidelined for both legs. Borja Mayoral is the top-scorer still in the Europa League with seven goals thus far, but Edin Dzeko will hope his experience sees him restored to the starting lineup.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Villarreal
A season’s best run of five straight wins puts Villarreal in prime position ahead of their first-leg visit to Maksimir Stadium, where Dinamo Zagreb hope to pull off another substantial upset.
The Croat contenders would probably prefer to do so in slightly smoother circumstances than their round-of-16 win over Tottenham, whereby a Mislav Orsic hat-trick saw them overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit in extra time to knock out Jose Mourinho’s side:
Orsic will be of grave importance in attack on Thursday given key frontman Bruno Petkovic looks certain to miss out due to a shoulder injury, Dinamo’s only injury concern of note.
Unfortunately for the underdog, they face a team coached by Unai Emery, who developed an eerie connection with this cup during his three years with Sevilla (2013-16). Emery won the tournament in each of those seasons at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, putting him level with Giovanni Trapattoni as the only manager to have lifted the Europa League (or UEFA Cup) on three occasions.
His Villarreal side are building a head of steam at the right point of the campaign, too, which included home and away wins over Dynamo Kiev in the last round (both by 2-0 margins). The Yellow Submarine most recently devastated Granada 3-0 following the international break, with Gerard Moreno scoring all three:
Mirko Barisic’s men managed a mighty resurgence on home soil against Spurs, but there’s a feeling Dinamo need a result at home to if they’re to have a hope of reaching the semi-finals.
Villarreal are unbeaten in 10 Europa League games this season and have only drawn once (at Maccabi tel Aviv in November), with every reason to believe Emery looks capable of another run at his favorite piece of silverware.