If the UEFA Champions League is showing signs of becoming an all-Premiership affair with three English semi-finalists, the UEFA Cup now bears the stamp of Spanish excellence following victories for a trio of Primera División clubs in Thursday's quarter-finals.
RCD Espanyol, CA Osasuna and Sevilla FC all advanced - at the expense of SL Benfica, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur FC respectively - making Spain the backdrop for both matches when the semi-finals get under way on the night of 26 April. The reaction to the triumvirate's progress in the local press can be summed up by the headline on the leading football website Marca: "Histórico."
Barcelona will stage Espanyol's first-leg game against Werder Bremen, the German side who will threaten Spanish hegemony on the evidence of their dismantling of AZ Alkmaar. Meanwhile, Osasuna and cup holders Sevilla will begin their tie in Pamplona before the contest is concluded in Andalusia on 3 May. The final will take place in the more northerly outpost of Glasgow, Scotland on 16 May.
Bremen have no reason to feel overwhelmed by this new wave of Spanish supremacy, however. The six previous UEFA Cup finals featuring teams from the same country have involved clubs from Italy (four times), England (once) and Germany (once) - never Spain. Historically, the Bundesliga has been even better represented in the semi-finals of the tournament: in 1979 three German sides made it this far, while the next year their domestic competition contributed an unprecedented and still-unequalled four semi-finalists.
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