Just like the Champions League, the Europa League quarterfinal draw took place on Friday. The final eight clubs left standing found out who stands in their way as they attempt to chase down the European trophy.
Chelsea, last season's Champions League winner, highlighted the draw. The Blues were eliminated from UCL play after the group stage, but they have knocked off Sparta Prague and Steaua Bucuresti to stay alive in the Europa League.
Other top contenders include fellow Premier League side Tottenham, who are led by the red-hot Gareth Bale, and Benfica. Those three squads are the favorites heading into the quarters, but it wouldn't be interesting if the tournament was always predictable.
Let's take a look at the matchups for the final eight. The matches will take place in early April, with the first legs on April 4 and the second legs on April 11. The four winners based on aggregate score will advance to the semifinal.
|QF No. 1||Chelsea||Rubin Kazan|
|QF No. 2||Tottenham||Basel|
|QF No. 3||Fenerbahce||Lazio|
|QF No. 4||Benfica||Newcastle United|
After being eliminated from the Champions League, it was unclear how seriously Chelsea would approach the second-tier European competition. Now that they've reached this point, the trophy becomes a priority. The Blues should handle Rubin Kazan.
Which quarterfinal will be the most exciting?
Tottenham have started to cool off after an extended hot streak. Back-to-back losses to Liverpool and Inter Milan are worrisome, but they still hold an edge over Basel. But give the Swiss side credit for knocking out Zenit St. Petersburg.
The third quarterfinal figures to be the most competitive. Lazio were the most impressive club in the Round of 16, knocking out Stuttgart by a 5-1 aggregate score. Fenerbahce should be able to put up a tougher fight against the Italian side.
Wrapping up the pairings is Benfica against Newcastle United. The Magpies' back line was terrific in the previous round, keeping two clean sheets against Anzhi Makhachkala. They will need a similar performance to keep pace with Benfica.