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Lowdown on the UEFA Europa League quarter-finalists

The crunch stage of the UEFA Europa League is upon us, so who do we need to keep an eye on over the coming fortnight? Our correspondents pick out the key men.

Lowdown on the UEFA Europa League quarter-finalists
Lowdown on the UEFA Europa League quarter-finalists ©UEFA.com

Ajax
The Amsterdam giants are one of just four clubs to have lifted all three major UEFA trophies. The last came back in 1995 when, as now, the side had an average age of 23.

Main attraction
Kasper Dolberg – 19, discovered by the same scout who brought Zlatan Ibrahimović to Ajax, he already has 19 goals in his first season for the club.

Youthful promise 
Matthijs De Ligt – 17, a defender tipped for greatness, De Ligt hadn't played for Ajax reserves before this season. Now he's a senior international.

Wise old head
Davy Klaassen – 24, a Dutch playmaker mature beyond his years as leader of one of the youngest teams in Europe.

Say it like it is
Václav Černý – va-arts-lav chur-knee
Mattijs de Ligt – ma-tice de licht
Jairo Riedewald – yie-ee-ro ree-der-volt
Lasse Schöne – shoo-nuh
Peter Bosz – pay-ter boss

Anderlecht
UEFA Cup winners in 1982/83 and runners-up the following season, Belgium's most successful club have not been beyond the quarter-finals since.

Main attraction
Łukasz Teodorczyk – 25, a Polish striker who has been inspired since arriving on loan from Dynamo Kyiv at the start of the season. He has scored 29 already this term.

The last time United and Anderlecht met
The last time United and Anderlecht met

Youthful promise
Frank Acheampong – 23, a fleet-footed Ghana forward who has struggled for consistency but, at his best, can devastate defences. Just ask round of 32 victims Zenit!

Wise 'old' head
Youri Tielemans – 19, a box-to-box midfielder and senior international with more than 170 games under his belt, he has already captained Anderlecht.

Say it like it is
Frank Boeckx – books
Alexandru Chipciu – kip-chi-oo
Olivier Deschacht – dus-hacht
Uroš Spajić – oo-ros spy-itch
Bram Nuytinck – nigh-tink
Łukasz Teodorczyk – woo-cash tay-oh-door-chick

Beşiktaş
The Turkish champions survived over an hour with ten men to reach the last eight, already matching their best-ever performance in European competition.

Main attraction
Ricardo Quaresma – 33, Cristiano Ronaldo's great buddy remains the fulcrum of Beşiktaş's attack: he has contributed three goals and four assists in Europe this season.

Ten-man Beşiktaş see off Olympiacos
Ten-man Beşiktaş see off Olympiacos

Youthful promise
Oğuzhan Özyakup – 24, an industrious, attack-minded midfielder released by Arsenal aged 19, the Dutch-born is regarded as a future Turkey captain.

Wise old head
Atiba Hutchinson – 34, a Canadian defensive midfielder-cum-right-back who played all but 56 minutes as Beşiktaş won the championship last term.

Say it like it is
Duško Tošić – dooshko tosh-itch
Caner Erkin – janner
Oğuzhan Özyakup – oh-san erz-yar-kup
Necip Uysal – ney-jip oo-sal
Cenk Tosun – jenk
Ömer Şişmanoğlu – shish-man-or-loo
Şenol Güneş – shen-ol goo-nesh

Celta Vigo
Spain's last chance of retaining a trophy won by Sevilla for the last three seasons, the Galicians are in Europe for the first time in a decade, and have never reached a semi-final.

Main attraction
Iago Aspas – 29, underwhelming for Liverpool and Sevilla, the forward is sparkling again back at boyhood club Celta.

Beauvue's brilliant header for Celta
Beauvue's brilliant header for Celta

Youthful promise
Pione Sisto – 22, a speedy, unpredictable midfielder, thriving in his first campaign away from Denmark.

Wise old head
Gustavo Cabral – 31, Celta's central defensive rock since 2012.

Say it like it is
John Guidetti – yon gee-dett-ee
Jozabed – ho-sa-beth
Mallo – my-oh
Facundo Roncaglia – ron-cah-lee-a
Daniel Wass – vass

Genk
The three-time Belgian champions are enjoying their best-ever European season and look buoyant despite losing star winger Leon Bailey to Leverkusen in the winter.

Main attraction
Alejandro Pozuelo – 25, Spanish creator-in-chief through whom the bulk of Genk's attacking play flows.

Genk's talent factory
Genk's talent factory

Youthful promise
Timoty Castagne – 21, home-grown right-back who has got forward to score two UEFA Europa League goals this season.

Wise old head
Thomas Buffel – 36, the oldest player in the squad by five years is a calming midfield presence – often from the bench.

Say it like it is
Genk hyenk
Jakub Brabec – ya-coob bra-bets
Jere Uronen – yeh-ray oo-ro-nen
Jean-Paul Boëtius – bo-ay-tee-us
Alejandro Pozuelo – poth-way-lo

Lyon
Quarter-finalists for the second time in four seasons, and the third overall, the French side want to reach the last four for the first time and have scored 16 goals in four fixtures to date.

Main attraction
Alexandre Lacazette – 25, currently 23-goal second-top scorer in Ligue 1, he has claimed three goals and an assist in 252 minutes of UEFA Europa League action this term.

Watch Lacazette thunderbolt in Lyon-Roma thriller
Watch Lacazette thunderbolt in Lyon-Roma thriller

Youthful promise
Mouctar Diakhaby – 20, the centre-back is excelling in a squad where more than half the players are 23 or younger. Parachuted into the team in September, he scored in both legs against Roma.

Wise old head
Christophe Jallet – 33, sparsely used in Ligue 1, the right-back has figured in all four UEFA Europa League games. Introduced at half-time in the Roma first leg, his composure helped turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 victory.

Say it like it is
Maxwel Cornet – cor-nay
Anthony Lopes – lops
Maciej Rybus – mat-chee rib-oos

Manchester United
The record 20-time English champions are bidding to become the fifth team to lift all three major UEFA club trophies in their first season under José Mourinho, a UEFA Cup winner with Porto in 2003.

Zlatan Ibrahimović
Zlatan Ibrahimović©Getty Images

Main attraction
Zlatan Ibrahimović – 35, the Sweden striker has mustered almost a goal a game since early November. He has lifted many trophies but not yet a major European honour. Is this his year?

Youthful promise
Marcus Rashford – 19, the teenager netted twice on his United debut last February, twice on his league debut, but just once on his England bow (albeit inside three minutes!).

Wise old head
Chris Smalling – 27, a non-league player until he was 18, nine years on Smalling is established as an England defender and United's leader in Europe.

Say it like it is
David de Gea – de hay-er
Marcus Rojo – ro-ho
Anthony Martial – mar-see-al

Schalke
The highest-ranked club left in the competition, Schalke are the most recent team to pick up this trophy among the survivors, winning the UEFA Cup in 1996/97 under Dutchman Huub Stevens.

Main attraction
Guido Burgstaller – 27, a winter arrival from Nürnberg, the Austria striker is hitting his stride in Gelsenkirchen.

Youthful promise
Leon Goretzka – 22, this in-demand midfield powerhouse has been likened to a young Michael Ballack.

Wise old head
Ralf Fährmann – 28, a Schalke academy graduate and one of the Bundesliga's most reliable goalkeepers.

Say it like it is
Donis Avdijaj – av-dee-eye
Ralf Fährmann – fair-man
Benedikt Höwedes – hur-ver-dess
Sead Kolašinac – ko-la-she-nats

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