Will Dušan Tadić, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and David de Gea be the men to shine?
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When they kicked off in Spain’s second tier two years ago, it would have been hard for Granada to believe that they would be playing United for a place in a European semi-final so soon. Their first continental campaign has brought success after success, but United represent another mighty step up in the world for Diego Martínez’s side. Meanwhile, United keeper David de Gea will be heading back to his native Spain, and boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær is coming up against the team that eliminated his old club in the last round. “They beat Molde,” he said. “So they must be very good!”
Next: Manchester United vs Granada (15 April)
Slavia’s last trip to Arsenal did not end well, with their 7-0 loss in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League the heaviest in their European history (and the Gunners biggest continental home success). However, away wins against Leicester and Rangers have shown that Jindřich Trpišovský’s team know how to stand up to British sides, while Jakub Hromada is facing a dream come true: “I've been [an Arsenal fan] since I was a child,” the midfielder admitted. “And it’s fantastic that we’ve reached this far in the Europa League.”
Next: Slavia Praha vs Arsenal (15 April)
"Ajax against AS Roma is a like something you would see on a great poster, with two famous clubs playing against each other,” said the Dutch side’s boss Erik ten Hag, ahead of the sides’ first meeting since a pair of 2002/03 UEFA Champions League ties. The Amsterdam side are looking to record a record 11th successive UEFA Europa League home win (group stage to final), but even with striker Dušan Tadić on song, they can expect no quarter from Paulo Fonseca’s Roma, the last Italian side in Europe this season eager to make it all the way to the final.
Next: Roma (vs Ajax (15 April)
Mislav Oršić’s hat-trick against Tottenham earned Dinamo a quarter-final place, and perhaps the biggest European result in their history, new coach Damir Krznar saying: ”On the wings of this win, we are dreaming of going through to the semi-finals.” Villarreal, though, represent a huge challenge. The Yellow Submarine had marginally the better of the sides’ only past meetings, in the 2010/11 group stage, and boast the Europa League’s most seasoned boss; Unai Emery has overseen 88 Europa League games, and won the competition three times at Sevilla.
Next: Villarreal vs Dinamo Zagreb (15 April)
First legs (29 April)
Granada (ESP) / Manchester United (ENG) vs Ajax (NED) / Roma (ITA)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) / Villarreal (ESP) vs Arsenal (ENG) / Slavia Praha (CZE)
Second legs (6 May)
Ajax (NED) / Roma (ITA) vs Granada (ESP) / Manchester United (ENG)
Arsenal (ENG) / Slavia Praha (CZE) vs Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) / Villarreal (ESP)
Gdańsk Stadium, Poland: 26 May