Europa League 2017 Draw: Semi-Final Fixture Schedule and Dates Released

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2017

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Jose Mourinho manager of Manchester United applauds the Anderlecht fans after the UEFA Europa League quarter final second leg match between Manchester United and RSC Anderlecht at Old Trafford on April 20, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Manchester United reach the semi-finals 3-2 on aggregate.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Manchester United will play Celta Vigo in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, while Ajax will face Olympique Lyonnais.

UEFA held the draw on Friday at its headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, following the draw for the same stage of the UEFA Champions League.

The teams drawn first will play at home in the first leg and away in the second. Here is the draw in full:

UEFA Europa League 2016-17 Semi-Final Draw
Home First Legvs.Home Second Leg
Celta Vigovs.Manchester United

The semi-final first legs will be played on Thursday, May 4, and the second legs take place on May 11.


Manchester United Seeking 1st Europa League Title

As a team that typically resides among Europe's elite, the Red Devils have relatively little experience of playing in UEFA's second-tier competition. Therefore, it remains one of the few honours they have yet to win.

Nevertheless, the Europa League is a tremendous piece of silverware to win and comes with the added bonus of Champions League qualification.

Winning the competition would cap an outstanding first season for manager Jose Mourinho and make their difficult battle to finish in the Premier League's top four almost inconsequential.

Despite being handed a fairly kind draw for the quarter-finals in the form of RSC Anderlecht, United laboured and needed extra time in the second leg to progress 3-2 on aggregate.

Dave Thompson/Associated Press

On paper, they're the strongest side remaining in the competition, but as demonstrated against Anderlecht and on numerous occasions in the Premier League, wasteful finishing has been a hallmark of their season and can make life difficult against teams they should be beating.

Celta eased past KRC Genk 4-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, and while no semi-finalist should be underestimated, they're perhaps the most favourable draw United could have received.

The Galicians have been toiling mid-table in La Liga this season and have never won a major honour.

Football writer Liam Canning expects United to progress, though as noted by football writer Colin Millar, the tie will be far from easy given Celta's record against stronger teams:

If the Red Devils are to beat Celta, they'll need to improve their finishing or they could see their dreams of winning the competition—and qualifying for the Champions League—go up in smoke.

Their biggest threat comes from former Liverpool forward Iago Aspas, who has enjoyed a prolific campaign and sits on 23 goals, five of which have been in the Europa League. Celta can punish United if they don't take their chances.

Lyon have scored 19 goals in the knockout phase of this year's competition since dropping out of the Champions League.

They recorded an 11-2 aggregate win over AZ Alkmaar in the round of 32, a 5-4 aggregate win over AS Roma in the last 16 and a 3-3 draw with Besiktas over two legs in the quarter-finals, with the French side advancing on penalties.

Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette (L) kicks the ball next to Besiktas' Dusko Tosic (C) during the UEFA Europa League second leg quarter final football match between Besiktas and Lyon (OL) on April 20, 2017, at the Vodafone arena stadium in Istanbul.  / AFP PHOTO
OZAN KOSE/Getty Images

In Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon boast one of the most in-form strikers in Europe, with the 25-year-old having scored 31 goals in all competitions, while Nabil Fekir and Corentin Tolisso will also pose significant threats.

Football journalist Rafael Hernandez believes the French side have the better chance of going through:

Ajax also needed extra time in the quarter-final, as they edged out FC Schalke 04 4-3 on aggregate.

While they're not the force they once were, they have the greatest European pedigree of the four teams remaining, having won the Champions League/European Cup four times, and both the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cupnow Europa Leagueonce.

Their current squad largely consists of somewhat inexperienced but highly talented younger players, most notably the 19-year-old striking sensation Kasper Dolberg, who has bagged 19 goals in all competitions this season.

While the majority of their players are under 25, Ajax are not to be taken lightly—their semi-final clash with Lyon could be a thrilling encounter.


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