Slavia Prague have taken down all British sides they faced in the Europa League knock-out stages so far. Next comes Arsenal, who see the competition as their last chance to save their season.
Berlin (dpa) – Arsenal will host their Europa League quarter-finals first leg on Thursday against Slavia Prague, a team who has shown they know how to handle British sides after wins over Leicester and Rangers.
Manchester United travel to Granada, who have enjoyed a remarkable run in their first European campaign and want to keep writing history. Ajax host Roma, while Dinamo Zagreb welcome Villarreal.
Slavia has been dethroning British sides in their Europa League campaign but don’t have fond memories of their last trip to Arsenal. The 7-0 defeat in the Champions League in 2008 was the heaviest in their European history.
“I was hoping to get Arsenal even in the previous three rounds. I’ve been a fan since I was a child,” Slavia midfielder Jakub Hromada said. “And it’s fantastic that we’ve reached this far in the Europa League.”
Out of the Cups and 10th-placed in the Premier League, far away from European competitions spots, Arsenal hold on to the Europa League as they hope for success this season.
“We are still far from the final but the idea is to go step by step, game by game and we have a difficult match against Slavia,” Arsenal midfielder Willian said.
“But we certainly have chances. We believe we can reach the final, yes,” he added.
The other British side alive in the competition, Manchester United, travel to Granada. The newcomers from Spain have defied expectations in their debut season in European competition.
“For us, it’s massively exciting. I once said jokingly that Granada wouldn’t have even faced United in a pre-season game,” Granada coach Diego Martinez said.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recognized it will be “another difficult tie.”
“They’ve done well in the Liga and we know we’re up against a team that will be technically very good and tactically very good,” he said, adding: “They beat [Solskjaer’s former club] Molde so they must be very good!”
Ajax host Roma in a tie described by the Dutch side’s boss Erik ten Hag as “something you would see on a great poster, with two famous clubs playing against each other.”
Roma will rely on their attacking branded football to secure at least an away goal.
“They are [one of] the most established football schools in Europe, but we have our chances,” Roma coach Paulo Fonseca said.
Mislav Orsic’s hat-trick against Tottenham earned Dinamo Zagreb a place in the quarter-finals against Villarreal and “on the wings of this win, we are dreaming of going through to the semi-finals,” coach Damir Krznar said.