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Star turns offer no UEFA Europa League quarter

Published: Thursday 22 March 2012, 10.59CET
The UEFA Europa League quarter-finals kick-off on Thursday with Club Atlético de Madrid bidding to reclaim the title they won in 2009/10, and FC Schalke 04 looking hungry.

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Published: Thursday 22 March 2012, 10.59CET

Star turns offer no UEFA Europa League quarter

The UEFA Europa League quarter-finals kick-off on Thursday with Club Atlético de Madrid bidding to reclaim the title they won in 2009/10, and FC Schalke 04 looking hungry.

All-Spanish and all-German UEFA Europa League finals remain a possibility as the quarter-finals kick-off on Thursday, with two Spain v Germany ties and all eight sides coming up against their opponents for the first time.

AZ Alkmaar v Valencia CF
AZ are unbeaten in eight European home games – six wins and two draws – and need a victory against Unai Emery's men, given that they have won just once in their last 17 European away matches. Valencia are the only side left from the eight who transferred from the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Valencia have yet to lose a game against a Dutch side, with their record in ten games reading W4 D6 L0, and they eliminated PSV Eindhoven in the round of 16. However, while they are unbeaten in nine UEFA Europa League fixtures, they have won just one in five on the road in Europe this season.

FC Schalke 04 v Athletic Club
Schalke have played Spanish opponents in a previous quarter-final in this competition, beating Valencia 3-1 on aggregate en route to winning the 1996/97 UEFA Cup. Huub Stevens' side also boast the competition's nine-goal top scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has scored hat-tricks in the last two rounds.

Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic, though, made light work of the mighty Manchester United FC in the round of 16. The Bilbao side have reached the quarter-finals for the first time since the 1976/77 season, when they went on to lose to Juventus on away goals in the two-legged final.

Sporting Clube de Portugal v FC Metalist Kharkiv
Sporting have won all four of their previous games against Ukrainian sides, but while they eliminated Manchester City FC in the round of 16, and have won nine of their last ten European home games, they may never have met a side like Metalist before.

Myron Markevich's men – featuring former Sporting defender Marco Torsiglieri – are the competition's 25-goal top scorers and have won five of their six away games this season, winning over fans across Europe with their attack, attack, attack style.

Club Atlético de Madrid v Hannover 96
Atlético took the inaugural UEFA Europa League title in 2009/10, and go into their meeting with the least experienced side left in UEFA competition on a run of seven straight continental home victories. Atlético's next goal will be their 400th in UEFA club competition.

It is only Hannover's second European campaign, but their coach Mirko Slomka has form – he reached the semi-finals of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup as coach of Schalke. Should they avoid a mauling at Mestalla, they can take comfort from the fact that they have yet to lose a home game in UEFA competition.

Semi-finals (19 April & 26 April)
1: Atlético/Hannover v AZ/Valencia
2: Sporting/Metalist v Schalke/Athletic

Final (9 May, National Arena, Bucharest, 20.45CET)
Winner semi-final 1 v Winner semi-final 2

Last updated: 27/11/12 12.26CET

Related information

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/news/newsid=1772641.html#star+turns+offer+uefa+europa+league+quarter

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