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What to look out for in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first legs

Manchester United and Feyenoord eye revenge while Sporting CP and Union Saint-Gilloise each seek another scalp in the last eight.

Man United's Bruno Fernandes, Sporting CP's Pedro Gonçalves, Feyenoord's Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Union Saint-Gilloise forward Victor Boniface
Man United's Bruno Fernandes, Sporting CP's Pedro Gonçalves, Feyenoord's Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Union Saint-Gilloise forward Victor Boniface

Revenge is in the air as the UEFA Europa League reaches the last-eight stage. Feyenoord and Roma meet in a rematch of last season's UEFA Europa Conference League final, while Manchester United face one of the few Spanish sides that have got the better of them in recent seasons. Sporting CP look to pick up where they left off against Arsenal in the last round, and Belgian newcomers Union Saint-Gilloise return to Germany.

In this piece presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, we pick out some key talking points ahead of the quarter-final first legs.

Quarter-final fixtures: 13 April 2023
Feyenoord vs Roma (18:45 CET)
Man United vs Sevilla (21:00 CET)
Juventus vs Sporting CP (21:00 CET)
Leverkusen vs Union Saint-Gilloise (21:00 CET)

What to look out for

United must fill Rashford-shaped hole
Marcus Rashford is in the form of his life. He surpassed his best return of goals in a season in February, overtook Cristiano Ronaldo for European goals for Manchester United in March and hopes to add a trophy or two in May. Among Europe's top five leagues, only Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé have scored more this term.

However, the England forward picked up a groin injury at the weekend and is now expected to miss both legs of their tie with Sevilla, leaving Erik ten Hag with a void to address. Antony Martial's return to form may see him lead the line while Antony has chipped in with key goals in this competition, but Bruno Fernandes will probably be the man United look to when it comes to creativity and flair.

Man United vs Spanish sides in the Europa League

Feyenoord ready for Roma rematch
Revenge may well be a dish best served cold, but the fates have decided that Feyenoord must take theirs lukewarm after being drawn against the side that beat them 1-0 in last season's Europa Conference League final. That was a match decided by fine margins, with the Dutch side's coach Arne Slot ruing that "you need a bit of luck and we didn't get it". There's no reason to feel the rematch will be any different.

Dutch league leaders Feyenoord have not lost since the start of November and swatted aside Shakhtar 7-1 in the last 16 second leg. Roma have been inconsistent by contrast but remain in the top-four hunt in Italy and, on their day, they can beat anybody – at home, at least. Away the Giallorossi have struggled, so if Feyenoord are going to avenge that final loss, they may need to inflict damage on their own turf in Rotterdam.

2022 Conference League final highlights: Roma 1-0 Feyenoord

Sporting finding their form
It has been a funny season at Sporting CP. At times they have roared like the lion that adorns their chest: at home to Tottenham and away at Frankfurt in the Champions League group stage, in their last-16 battle royale against Arsenal. At other times it has been more of a whimper: in January's Portuguese League Cup final, in their European collapse in the autumn, in their league struggles.

Yet could it all be coming together at the right time? Former Portugal forward Nuno Gomes thinks so. "They are in the midst of their best spell of the season," he warns Juventus. "And the attack is dangerous – not one particular player but multiple threats. They are lethal in the transition." For the Italian side, that will sound all too similar to Sporting's city rivals Benfica, who twice defeated them in the autumn.

Highlights: Arsenal 1-1 Sporting CP (3-5 pens)

Future's bright at Union SG
Only two teams have won more Belgian top-flight titles than Union SG, but until a couple of years ago those past glories were as faded as the photos dotted around the club. Then everything changed. After almost half a century, Les Unionistes were promoted back to the top flight and it was like they'd never been away as they fell just short of marking their return with a 12th league title (and first since 1935).

A maiden campaign in UEFA competition was their reward and here too Union SG have looked to the manor born. Karel Geraerts's young, multinational side topped their Europa League group ahead of Union Berlin and then overcame the Bundesliga high-fliers 6-3 on aggregate in the last 16. Their reward? Another trip to Germany, this time to take on mid-table Leverkusen.

Highlights: Union SG 3-0 Union Berlin

Where is the 2023 UEFA Europa League final being played?

The 2022/23 Europa League season will conclude at Budapest's Puskás Aréna on 31 May 2023.

Officially opened in 2019, the 65,000+ capacity ground stands on the site of the old Hungarian national team stadium, which was also named in honour of former Honvéd and Real Madrid forward Ferenc Puskás. The venue is located in the Zugló district of the Hungarian capital.

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