The UEFA Europa League quarter-finals will be a venture into the unknown after the draw remarkably conjured up four ties between teams that have never previously met.
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The UEFA Europa League quarter-finals will be a venture into the unknown for the eight remaining hopefuls after the draw conjured up four ties between teams that have never met before. The quirk is remarkable for this stage of the competition but many of the sides have fresh memories of facing their opponents' domestic rivals.
Newcastle United FC, drawn with SL Benfica, will hope to fare better against Portuguese opposition than when they last reached the last eight of a major European competition, losing to Sporting Clube de Portugal in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup. Benfica, the only team to have graced this stage since the tournament was rebranded four year ago, will provide a stiff test.
Tottenham Hotspur FC also have fine pedigree, having won the UEFA Cup in 1972 and 1984, and they will take on Swiss title holders FC Basel 1893. FC Rubin Kazan play European champions Chelsea FC, meaning a return to London where the Russian club lost 1-0 to Tottenham in last season's group phase. Fenerbahçe SK await S.S. Lazio.
The prospect of an all-English final is very much alive, with the three Premier League contenders kept apart. In each of the previous two campaigns in which a country has had three sides in the quarter-finals, one went on to lift the trophy – FC Porto in 2010/11 and Club Atlético de Madrid last May. Indeed, they both beat domestic rivals in the final. The five other teams will have something to say about that, though.
"We are now only 12 games away from the final and we know that on Wednesday 15 May at the Amsterdam ArenA a new name will be engraved on the UEFA Europa League trophy," said UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, who conducted the draw in Nyon with director of club competitions Giorgio Marchetti and final ambassador Patrick Kluivert. "It is a great venue for the final and all the clubs who are present at this stage will now have the clear objective of being there."
Quarter-finals (4 & 11 April)*
Chelsea FC (ENG) v FC Rubin Kazan (RUS)
Tottenham Hotspur FC (ENG) v FC Basel 1893 (SUI)
Fenerbahçe SK (TUR) v S.S. Lazio (ITA)
SL Benfica (POR) v Newcastle United FC (ENG)
The draw for the last four will be made in Nyon on Friday 12 April, with the ties being played on 25 April and 2 May. This year's final takes place at the Amsterdam ArenA on 15 May.
* All games kick off at 21.05CET except the Rubin v Chelsea second leg, which begins at 18.00CET.