Following our second Europa League double-legged comeback last week (match report to follow), we have been handed a very tough draw in the Quarter-Finals, where we will play Italian giants Napoli.
We lost 3-1 away in France to Rennes, only to turn the tie around with a 3-0 victory last week at home to book our place in the last 8 along with fellow Londoners Chelsea.
Then in Friday’s draw, we were drawn to play Napoli, while Chelsea must get past Sparta Prague to progress. In a rather weird twist, we had our games switched around as UEFA don’t want us and Chelsea both playing at home on the same night, despite this already happening most weekends in the Premier League.
The home game will take place on Thursday 11th April, 8pm, while the very tricky away game will take place in Italy a week later on the 18th, KO also 8pm UK time.
The Rennes Europa tie was switched, but we ended up getting the better deal and played our 2nd leg at home, this time it’s worked the opposite way. Napoli will be remembered after the last time we met them as the team that rocked up and smashed up the pie shop before losing 2-0 in the Champions League back in October 2013.
Anyway… full Europa League quarter-final draw:
Napoli v ARSENAL
Villarreal v Valencia
Benfica v Eintracht Frankfurt
Slavia Prague v Chelsea
The semi-final draw has also been made, and we will face either Villarreal or Valencia, while Chelsea/Prague could play either Benfica or Eintracht Frankfurt meaning there is still a very real chance of an all English Europa League final. This is also the same in the Champions League, with three English teams and Tottenham still left in Europe’s second most exciting cup competition.
In other news, David Ospina, on loan at Napoli collapsed on the pitch during their game against Udinese on Sunday. He took a blow to the head early on, but carried on playing until, just before half time he fell to the ground.
Despite the worrying scenes, Napoli Manager Carlo Ancelotti said after the game that:
“Fortunately it’s nothing serious, he’s conscious, they did a CAT scan that is negative…”
It’s not yet clear wether Ospina will be fit enough to play in the Quarter Final, or whether the clubs added a clause where he couldn’t play against us as yet. There are no UEFA rules to say he can’t play, so we will have to wait and see.