Anticipation high for Europa League ties

The quarter-final draw was variously described as "unbelievable", "fascinating" and "dangerous" by representatives of the eight clubs hoping to lift the trophy.

Juventus players celebrate reaching the last eight
Juventus players celebrate reaching the last eight ©Getty Images

There was plenty of excitement among the representatives of the eight teams remaining in the UEFA Europa League, AZ Alkmaar's Dick Advocaat describing his side's draw with SL Benfica as "unbelievable" and Marco Streller looking forward to FC Basel 1893's "fascinating" tie against Valencia CF. For Juventus, meanwhile, there is still the considerable lure of a final in their home stadium, although the Bianconeri insist those thoughts are far from their mind.

AZ Alkmaar v SL Benfica
Dick Advocaat, AZ coach: "This is great for AZ, it gives a huge boost to the club. We have nothing to complain about. I have had a lot of messages; we've put AZ back on the map. No one had expected we would get this far in the Europa League. I was hoping to draw Benfica, I honestly was. That is a big traditional club. Unbelievable. They really have an excellent team, with a beautiful stadium."

Lourenço Coelho, Benfica director: "It's a draw which Benfica will work hard to successfully negotiate. AZ came from the play-offs, so this year they've been having a good run in Europe – not so much in their league, but therefore they will want to show their value as a team in the Europa League. The players will want to show what they can do. It will be a difficult tie. Benfica have everything they need to get through, but it will be difficult, as all matches are at this stage. In football there are no easy opponents – over 180 minutes anything can happen. But if we approach the match and work as we have done so far, respecting the opponents as we have done, our players have a lot of quality so they have every chance to go through."

Olympique Lyonnais v Juventus
Rémi Garde, Lyon coach: "In France, there is PSG and in Italy, Juventus. This is a club with a strong identity. The players are part of a big family – we feel that closeness. The team play a very efficient game. It will be a mountain to climb. We'll see after the first leg. It is no surprise to have a tough draw – it happens at this stage of the season. The end of our season is busy, we know, but this is the essence of professional sport. It is at these moments that the players can thrive and step up a higher level. This is an important step to take."

Pavel Nedvěd, Juventus director: "Pirlo will play at the [former] home of Juninho Pernambucano, his master [in free-kick expertise], but the road to the final is still long. We are proud to be the only Italian team to have reached a European quarter-final for the second season running. It's a difficult draw against Lyon, even if many people are already talking about Juventus in the final. We need to take it very seriously. No rival should be underestimated. We really are not thinking about playing in the final at home. We must focus on the quarter-finals.

"I have analysed [Lyon], because in the last round they faced a team from my home country [FC Viktoria Plzeň] and they managed to get past them. So I will have a lot of information; I am happy those two teams played each other. We will know everything about them, so we will be ready."

FC Basel 1893 v Valencia CF
Marco Streller, Basel striker: "It's a fascinating draw for us, yet I think we could have had tougher opponents. Valencia is a great city. If I could have picked an opponent, I think I would have taken AZ Alkmaar, but I am looking forward to playing against Philippe Senderos. We are not the favourites, I think it would be presumptuous to say we are at the same level as Valencia."

Mario Kempes, Valencia international ambassador: "There are no small teams at this level of European football. A lot of people may say, 'Thank God we didn't get Juventus' but there are clubs who are tournament specialists while Juve are a league-style side who have gone a long time without lifting a [knockout] trophy. We should look at the level Valencia are at and what we saw in our last tie against [PFC] Ludogorets [Razgrad].

"The draw has been favourable but we must wait to see the games themselves. Here's hoping that this team can go on to the final and win it, just as [I did] the 1980 European Cup Winners' Cup. Apart from a few exceptions, Valencia have always been a team more at home in tournaments like the Copa del Rey and in Europe than in the Liga. They have always been a cup team."

FC Porto v Sevilla FC
Fernando Gomes, Porto representative: "It's a match and a team we know well. We played Sevilla in 2010/11, Porto's last big season at international level. That time we had a very difficult tie, very even, but we were able to win. This time we also foresee a difficult tie, but we also want to come out on top. The Europa League is growing each year and becoming more competitive. In this draw there wasn't much to choose between the teams. Now we have to think about the match and do our best to beat this great team, Sevilla."

Unai Emery, Sevilla coach: "At this stage all the teams are strong but perhaps some sides, because of the history they bring, are more dangerous than others. Porto are a great team and this will be a great tie. I think it will be very even. The tie will, of course, fill us with hope and optimism. Porto eliminated [SSC] Napoli in the last round and given that fact, we are certain it's not going to be easy against them. I saw Porto play at Málaga [CF in the UEFA Champions League round of 16] last season, when they had almost the same squad as now. They have very good players, [some of whom] have a great future.

"I wouldn't dare say we are superior or inferior to Porto. I am sure they are considered one of the tournament favourites. We started this season's [UEFA Europa League] in Portugal [away to Estoril Praia] with 4,000 fans travelling with us. We are facing a side with a big reputation in the quarter-finals and I hope those same fans will be with us again. Sevilla have won this trophy twice while I have reached the semi-finals as a coach. We know it won't be easy and that we will have to work hard."