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Portugal's finest chase UEFA Europa League dream

Published: Wednesday 30 March 2011, 14.58CET
The 2010/11 UEFA Europa League could have an all-Portuguese semi-final, and indeed final, with Villarreal CF the only side from Europe's top five leagues featuring in the quarter-finals.

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Published: Wednesday 30 March 2011, 14.58CET

Portugal's finest chase UEFA Europa League dream

The 2010/11 UEFA Europa League could have an all-Portuguese semi-final, and indeed final, with Villarreal CF the only side from Europe's top five leagues featuring in the quarter-finals.

An all-Portuguese semi-final, and indeed final, remains a possibility as the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals begin, with Spain the only so-called big five league represented in the last eight.

For the first time since the 1993/94 UEFA Cup, three Portuguese Liga clubs are competing for a semi-final place. And according to the draw made on 18 March, two will meet in the last four if SC Braga overcome FC Dynamo Kyiv and SL Benfica prevail in their encounter with PSV Eindhoven – a repeat of the 1987/88 European Champion Clubs' Cup final which the Dutch team edged on penalties.

The winner of that theoretical tie could then face another Portuguese side in the Dublin final on Wednesday 18 May, provided FC Porto can continue their unbeaten run against Russian teams when they take on FC Spartak Moskva, with the victor to play either Villarreal CF or Dutch champions FC Twente in the semis. No previous UEFA competition tie has pitted one Portuguese club against another.

Spanish high-fliers Villarreal boast the competition's leading scorer in eight-goal Giuseppe Rossi – and are also the only remaining representative of the top five European leagues. It is also the first time in UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League history that no side from England, Germany, Italy or France has figured in the last eight. This could be a sign of the times, however: of the tournament's last nine editions, five have been won by Spanish teams, with the other four victors coming from lower-ranked leagues.

Last updated: 27/11/12 21.12CET

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