Europa League favourites Juventus received a favourable draw against Lyon as the quarterfinal lineup took shape in Nyon, Switzerland.
Antonio Conte's side will be pleased to visit the Ligue 1 side away during their opening fixture, and have the goalscoring prowess to likely put the tie to bed before 90 minutes is up.
Benfica also received a kind draw against AZ Alkmaar, while Valencia face a tricky two-legged tie against Basel. Porto's intriguing encounter against Sevilla rounds off the selection, which you can see below:
|Europa League Draw 2014: Quarterfinals|
|AZ Alkmaar||vs.||Benfica||April 3, 2014.||April 10, 2014.|
|Lyon||vs.||Juventus||April 3, 2014.||April 10, 2014.|
|Basel||vs.||Valencia||April 3, 2014.||April 10, 2014.|
|Porto||vs.||Sevilla||April 3, 2014.||April 10, 2014.|
Let's waltz through the chances of each remaining team now the draw is known:
AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica
Vitally for Benfica, Jorge Jesus' team have avoided Juventus. The Portuguese club's powerful 5-3 aggregate win against Tottenham highlighted Benfica as real favourites to go one step further than their final loss last season.
Alkmaar have proven an extremely tough team to overcome throughout this season's tournament. The Dutch club have suffered defeat in just one of 12 matches on their long route to the quarterfinals, which started all the way back in August, per WhoScored.com.
Currently seventh in the Eredivisie, Alkmaar's continental form has seen Gertjan Verbeek's team concede just eight goals, a far cry from their domestic struggles. Benfica are much tougher opponents than those who Alkmaar have dispatched, suggesting the underdogs must keep the tie within reach after the opening 90 minutes.
As we witnessed during Benfica's triumph over Spurs, giving up too many away goals in the first tie makes the job seemingly impossible.
Lyon vs. Juventus
Similar to Benfica, Juve will be ecstatic with their pairing. It may have taken a piece of Andrea Pirlo magic to beat Fiorentina 2-1 on aggregate, but the Italian champions have plenty of individuals they can rely on throughout the competition.
Legendary bianconeri star Pavel Nedved confirmed Juve will do all they can to advance, per the club's official Twitter account:
Players such as Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Carlos Tevez are sure to put the fear in a Lyon side that beat Viktoria Plzen during the round of 16. Despite stuttering to fifth in Ligue 1, Lyon's second-leg loss to Plzen is their only defeat of a solid Europa League campaign.
Alexandre Lacazette's pace has the capacity to trouble Juve's defence, while Yoann Gourcuff needs to step up and take a leading role if Lyon are to have any chance. The Old Lady have faltered in just one of their last 19 matches, per WhoScored.com, signalling this result is likely to be a formality.
Basel vs. Valencia
Both Basel and Valencia should be classed as outside bets to win this year's Europa League. The Swiss side are very rarely pushovers at Champions League level and possess a well-organised team ethic that is built around individuals who can significantly influence any game.
Murat Yakin's side are also unfamiliar with losing. Basel have endured defeat once in 25 matches and will test Valencia's resilience with a confident output against the Spanish side. Valencia are far more inconsistent and have lost two out of their last three away games in all competitions.
Dani Parejo will need to be at his passing best to halt the likes of Valentin Stocker and Fabian Frei in the middle. Needless to say, away goals are likely to be crucial in this one.
Porto vs. Sevilla
Sevilla performed excellently to overturn Real Betis' 2-0 advantage during their second-leg penalty win in the all-Spanish round of 16 tie, but Porto is not the reward they were looking for.
Similar to Manchester United's comeback win over Olympiakos in the Champions League—which resulted with the Red Devils being drawn against Bayern Munich—Sevilla face an imposing task against the Portuguese juggernauts.
Nabil Ghilas and Ricardo Quaresma grabbed vital away goals during the 2-2 draw with Napoli, sending Porto through 3-2 on aggregate. Jackson Martinez's strike in the first game proved pivotal and underlines the club's array of scorers.
Sevilla have a loving history in this tournament, winning back-to-back UEFA Cups in 2006 and '07. Unai Emery's team won't be content with just giving Porto a decent game and should be confident of causing an upset.
Ramon Rodriguez, the club's sporting director, is calling for revenge—reported by UEFA:
Should Sevilla nab an away goal at the Estadio do Dragao, the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan will bounce with an intimidating buzz during the return leg. This match is destined to be closer than many suspect, but Porto undoubtedly head into proceedings as favourites.
Like the Champions League draw, the big-hitters should be thankful for missing each other at the Europa League quarter-final stage. Benfica will hope to catch Juventus before the Turin final, especially considering the Italian side are likely to receive full backing if they make the showpiece match.
Sevilla are dark horses and the most likely underdogs to cause an upset in what should be a thrilling round of quarterfinal fixtures.
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