Last year's runners-up SL Benfica and this season's final hosts Juventus provide some of the star quality as the UEFA Europa League gears up for the quarter-finals.
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Wide-eyed adventurers and pedigree contenders mingle in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, with last season's runners-up SL Benfica and final hosts Juventus lining up alongside three sides still dreaming of a first major European trophy: AZ Alkmaar, Olympique Lyonnais and FC Basel 1893.
AZ Alkmaar v SL Benfica
• AZ are the only quarter-finalist who have made it through the group stage and remain unbeaten in ten UEFA Europa League games this term (W5 D5: W3 D2 L0 at home – W2 D3 L0 away). AZ's five matches against Portuguese opponents have ended W3 D1 L1 (W2 D1 L0 at home – W1 D0 L1 in Portugal). They have not lost in their last four encounters with Liga opponents, nor conceded in the last three.
• Benfica have not won in their last seven games in the Netherlands (two defeats followed by five draws – including successive 2-2s in their last four visits) since a 3-1 victory at AFC Ajax on 2 February 1969. However, the Eagles have won their last five matches at home to Dutch opposition – with all three triumphs since the turn of the millennium coming by margins of two goals or more.
Olympique Lyonnais v Juventus
• The most-fouled team since the start of the group stage, Lyon are unbeaten in five UEFA Europa League home fixtures since their group campaign (a draw, then four straight wins) but scored as many in their 4-1 round of 16 first-leg victory over FC Viktoria Plzeň as they had in the preceding four European home outings. Their opening date with Juventus falls on coach Rémi Garde's 48th birthday.
• The 2013/14 UEFA Europa League final hosts, Juventus have reached their 27th UEFA quarter-final, but are looking to put a halt to their longest-ever barren run: they have lost their last three quarter-final ties. Out to lead his side to an unprecedented fourth triumph in the competition (following successes in 1977, 1990 and 1993), Juventus's Antonio Conte is the only coach in the last eight to have lifted the UEFA Cup as a player (1993).
FC Basel 1893 v Valencia CF
• Rafael Benítez's Valencia got the better of Christian Gross's Basel over the course of two games in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League group stage; John Carew scored twice as Valencia won the home leg 6-2, but his team then drew 2-2 in Basel, Ivan Ergić levelling after Valencia's Roberto Ayala was dismissed on 88 minutes. Current coach Murat Yakin captained Basel in both those fixtures.
• Basel are unbeaten in four matches home and away (W2 D2) since transferring from the UEFA Champions League to the UEFA Europa League. They have not conceded in their last three continental fixtures at St. Jakob-Park. Their visitors' defence is also unbreached in four UEFA Europa League games, with Valencia also having scored the most goals (18) in this season's competition and had the most attempts both on (55) and off target (67) of the quarter-finalists.
FC Porto v Sevilla FC
• André Villas-Boas's Porto beat Gregorio Manzano's Sevilla on away goals in the round of 32 en route to winning the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League; Porto prevailed 2-1 in Spain yet lost the return leg 1-0 in Portugal – with Álvaro Pereira dismissed on 72 minutes for Porto and Sevilla's Alexis seeing red five minutes later. Both sides have won this competition twice: Sevilla in 2006 and 2007, Porto in 2003 and 2011.
• Sevilla goalkeeper Beto represented Porto from 2009–12 and also played alongside Porto's Ricardo Quaresma (2000–01) and Silvestre Varela (2003–04) in the B team at Sporting Clube de Portugal. Sevilla boast more Portuguese talent in defenders Daniel Carriço and Diogo Figueiras; the latter was a team-mate of Porto striker Nabil Ghilas while at Moreirense FC (2012) and a colleague of midfielder Josué with FC Paços de Ferreira (2011–13).