Barcelona and tournament specialists Sevilla hope to secure Europa League quarter-final places this week with three Spanish sides still in a competition that has been dominated by La Liga clubs in recent years. A rejuvenated Barça travel to Istanbul for the second leg of their round of 16 tie against Galatasaray on a 10-game unbeaten run that took them to third place in La Liga and made them one of the favorites to win the Europa League. . “The fans have fun when they come to the stadium and so do we on the pitch,” said Gerard Pique, who made his 600th appearance for Barcelona in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Osasuna.
“The results are coming back and we expect them to continue until the end of the season,” the veteran centre-back told the club’s website.
However, Xavi Hernandez’s side drew 0-0 at home to struggling Galatasaray in the first leg of the Europa League last week, so there is still work to be done to reach the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Sevilla are in London to take on West Ham United with a 1-0 first-leg lead thanks to Munir El Haddadi’s goal.
Six draws in their last eight league games ended their hopes of winning the domestic title, leaving Julen Lopetegui’s charges 10 points behind leaders Real Madrid.
But they remain on course for further success in the Europa League as they look to win a trophy they have already lifted a record six times, all since 2006.
Sevilla are also interested in trying to reach a final to be played at their own stadium, the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, on May 18.
He left the injured Marcos Acuña out of the squad for the trip to the UK to face a West Ham side who see the Europa League as their best chance of lifting a first major trophy in more than four decades.
“We have to score and hopefully on Thursday in front of a packed stadium we show our quality and seize the opportunity,” Hammers midfielder Tomas Soucek said.
West Ham are the only English representatives remaining in the Europa League, while Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis are the third Spanish team to travel to Germany to face Eintracht Frankfurt in a bid to overturn a 2-1 deficit.
Spanish clubs have won seven of the last 10 Europa Leagues, including last year when Villarreal beat Manchester United on penalties in the final.
Rangers are set to advance to the quarter-finals after beating Red Star Belgrade 3-0 at home in the first leg last week, while Braga, Atalanta and Lyon will also defend advances from the first leg.
RB Leipzig earned a bye to the quarter-finals after Spartak Moscow’s last 16 opponents fell victim to the Russian club’s suspension.
In the Europa Conference League, Leicester City are well placed to reach the quarter-finals as they defend a 2-0 first-leg lead on their trip to France to take on Rennes.
Marseille, Roma and Feyenoord are among the other teams defending their first-leg leads.
I’ll see you on thursday (Kick-off at 17:45 GMT unless otherwise noted; first-leg scores in parentheses)
Europa League round of 16 second leg
Red Star Belgrade (SRB) v Rangers (SCO) (0-3)
Monaco (FRA) – Braga (POR) (0-2)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER) vs. Atalanta (ITA) (2-3)
Galatasaray (TUR) – Barcelona (ESP) (1-1)
Lyon (FRA) – Porto (POR) (1-0) (2000 GMT)
West Ham United (ENG) – Seville (ESP) (0-1) (2000 GMT)
Eintracht Frankfurt (GER) – Real Betis (ESP) (2-1)
Europa Conference League round of 16 second leg
Basel (SUI) – Marseille (FRA) (1-2)
Rennes (FRA) – Leicester City (ANG) (0-2)
FC Copenhagen (DEN) – PSV Eindhoven (NED) (4-4)
AZ Alkmaar (NED) vs. Bodo/Glimt (NOR) (1-2)
Gent (BEL) – PAOK (GRE) (0-1) (2000 GMT)
Rome (ITA) – Vitesse Arnhem (NED) (1-0) (2000 GMT)
LASK (AUT) v Slavia Prague (CZE) (1-4) (2000 GMT)
Feyenoord (NED) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB) (5-2) (2000 GMT)
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