Europa League Draw 2018-19: Schedule of Dates for Quarter-Final Fixtures

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 15, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 14:  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal takes on Damien Da Silva of Stade Rennais during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg match between Arsenal and Stade Rennais at Emirates Stadium on March 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Arsenal have been handed a difficult UEFA Europa League quarter-final against Napoli, while Premier League peers Chelsea were given a simpler-looking matchup opposite Slavia Prague.

Friday's draw in Nyon, Switzerland, revealed the quarter-final lineup, which also sees Spanish contenders Villarreal and Valencia picked opposite one another in what will be a tense duel between La Liga rivals.

Three-time runners-up Benfica will look to tame a dangerous Eintracht Frankfurt side in their quarter-final.

The first-leg quarter-finals will take place on Thursday, April 11, and the return fixtures will be held on Thursday, April 18.

Here's the 2018-19 Europa League quarter-final draw

  • Napoli vs. Arsenal
  • Villarreal vs. Valencia
  • Benfica vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Slavia Prague vs. Chelsea

         

And the semi-finals:

  • Napoli/Arsenal vs. Villarreal/Valencia
  • Benfica/Eintracht Frankfurt vs Slavia Prague/Chelsea

         

The quarter-finals will be played on Thursday, April 11, and Thursday, April 18. The first legs of the semi-finals will be played on Thursday, May 2, ahead of the return legs on Thursday, May 9.

Here's how the bracket looks heading into the last eight:

Unai Emery couldn't have hoped for a much more difficult draw coming into the quarters, with Napoli having beaten Zurich and Red Bull Salzburg since they dropped down from the UEFA Champions League.

The Gunners were initially drawn away in the first leg, but UEFA clarified after the draw that Chelsea—who finished higher than Arsenal in the Premier League last season—would keep their slot:

An opening leg at the Emirates Stadium could work in their favour, with Arsenal having had to come from behind following first-leg disappointment in each of the previous two rounds.

Journalist James Benge was confident of their chances:

Arsenal and Napoli previously met in the 2013-14 Champions League group stage, with each team winning 2-0 in their home leg.

Mesut Ozil was involved in both Arsenal's goals to beat the Italians at home five-and-a-half years ago, but the German isn't as certain to feature in Emery's XI this time around.

Chelsea beat Benfica 2-1 to win this competition in 2013, and the Czech contenders may struggle to contend with a confident team that beat Dynamo Kiev 8-0 over two legs.

Slavia Prague have reached the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time since 2000 and could break a 23-year record if they managed to make it back into the last four.

Jindrich Trpisovsky's side shouldn't be taken lightly after pulling off an extra-time win over Sevilla to advance from the last 16, but mimicking that upset against Chelsea could prove a request too far.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri could face a dream final if his team advance, per sportswriter Simon Johnson:

One goal over the course of 180 minutes was all that separated Eintracht Frankfurt from Inter Milan in the round of 16, with forward Luka Jovic supplying a pivotal winner for the Germans.

Adi Hutter has his team operating at a higher quality than many might have thought possible, and Squawka pointed out they represent Germany alone now:

Spain will be reduced to only Europa League outfit in the semis, with Villarreal hoping they can beat Valencia and continue their Europa League dream amid a struggle to remain in La Liga.

The trouble for them is that they failed to score in two league matches with Valencia this season and lost 3-0 at the Mestalla, with the Yellow Submarine targeting their first Europa League final.

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