The Europa League was trimmed down to eight clubs for the quarter final after the Round of 16 was completed on Thursday. There’s a wide array of clubs left in the competition with Manchester United and Inter Milan headlining those left.
Of the eight clubs remaining, four achieved qualification for the 2020/21 Champions League in their respective domestic leagues. For the rest, the Europa League offers one last opportunity to qualify for the Champions League.
Europa League: Three Quarter-finalists With the Most to Lose
After finishing in seventh place in the Premier League, Wolves will need to win the Europa League to have any chance of playing in a European competition next season. Arsenal’s FA Cup triumph left Wolves without a spot in next season’s Europa League. This is it for Wolves’ hopes of a continental competition if they exit the tournament without claiming the title.
It wouldn’t be completely fair to say Wolves have no chance of winning the competition. Wolves have shown at times this past season they can defeat top clubs. They won twice against Manchester City and will need to replicate a similar performance when they face Sevilla in the quarterfinals.
Copenhagen were dethroned as Danish champions by FC Midtjylland this season, which means they will not be heading to the Champions League qualification rounds. This will be their chance to get back into the Champions League picture with a surprising run to the Europa League title.
It would be a tremendous upset if Copenhagen can navigate their way to the final. Their quarter-final opponents, Manchester United, will not be an easy foe as Ole Gunnar Solskjær looks to claim his first European title as manager. However, if Copenhagen can get past Manchester United it might give them enough confidence to go on and win it all.
Swiss club FC Basel are in a similar position to Copenhagen as they failed to win their domestic league, and will be heading to next seasons Europa League qualifying rounds if they exit this seasons Europa League.
Basel are long shots to win the competition, but after a strong result against Eintracht Frankfurt, they shouldn’t be overlooked. Getting back to the Champions League would be a big triumph for a club who have been unable to win their domestic league as of late.
Shakhtar Donetsk are one of four quarter-finalists who have already qualified for next season’s Champions League. After claiming the Ukrainian Premier League title, a Europa League exit would not be a devastating blow. With that being said, they have an opportunity to win a European title.
Their last European title came in the 2008/09 season when they won the UEFA Cup – which is now known as the Europa League. This would be a big accomplishment for a club that has endured hardship over the last few years due to the turmoil in Ukraine. It would be a huge result for the club and its supporters.
With a place in next seasons Champions League already booked, Manchester United can now complete their season with a Europa League title. This would be their second Europa League title in the last five years if they win it all. More importantly, it would be Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s first major title as manager of the club.
It would certainly be seen as a disappointment if Manchester United fail to advance to the final of this competition. They were one of the favourites to win this tournament when they got past the group stage and their recent form indicates they can go on and win the entire tournament.
German club Bayer Leverkusen did not make it into next seasons Champions League after finishing fifth in the Bundesliga. As a result, they are one of the clubs who will be looking to win the Europa League to make it back into the Champions League.
Leverkusen did secure a place in the Europa League group stage, which leaves them in a better position than clubs like Basel and Copenhagen who would have to play in Europa League qualifiers.
It’s been a very long time since Leverkusen last won a European title. In the 1987/88 season, they won the UEFA Cup. Now they have another opportunity to take the title in what might be Kai Havertz’s last time with the club.
Sevilla – Europa League Five Time Winners
Sevilla are heading to the Champions League next season after finishing fourth in La Liga. They are the lone representatives of La Liga left in the Europa League and are very capable of winning the title. A strong 2-0 victory against Roma in the Round of 16 showed they are in very good form entering the quarter-finals.
The Spanish club might just surprise the other big-name clubs left and take the title. Sevilla have won the competition five times in their history and are no strangers to success in this competition.
Along with Manchester United, Inter Milan are one of the outright favourites to win the Europa League. They finished their Serie A season strong to finish in second place and continued their run of form by defeating Getafe to reach the quarter-finals.
Antonio Conte could benefit from winning the Europa League, as Sky Sports reported Inter Milan will wait to decide his future as manager after the conclusion of the tournament. On a club level, a Europa League title would be their first continental success in ten years.