Granada host Manchester United in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final on Thursday, in a further step on their historic European path, while Villarreal visit Dinamo Zagreb.
The modest Andalusian team will face the English giant with the intention of taking another step forward in its first season in Europe, in which it is being one of the revelations of the competition.
“On Thursday we have a historic appointment. We are going to play one of the most important games in our history,” said Granada coach Diego Martínez after the 3-0 defeat in the league against Villarreal on Saturday.
The Andalusian team thus accumulated its third consecutive defeat in an official match, but Martínez insisted that “defeats stimulate us”, remembering that “this team has always gone to the limit to compete with the best.”
Facing United, Granada is waiting to see if they can count on Colombian striker Luis Suárez, who already trained this week with the group after two months off due to a muscle injury, although, in principle, the offensive responsibility will fall on Roberto Soldado .
“The most important thing is to see the best Granada and try to ensure that the Manchester players do not have their day,” said Soldado in an interview with AFP.
Granada, who turned 90 on Tuesday, will try to defeat an English Goliath, who has only lost one of his last thirteen official matches.
The coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær will not be able to count for this meeting with the Ivorian defender Eric Bailly, positive for covid during the concentration with his team and who has not yet been able to return to the United Kingdom.
Second place in the Premier League, United is emerging as the favorite to advance to the next round.
The other Spanish survivor in the Europa League, Villarreal, visits Dinamo Zagreb supported by their streak of five consecutive victories in official matches.
Much of this good moment lies in the excellent performance of attacker Gerard Moreno, who on Thursday will once again be a fundamental pillar to hurt the Croatian team.
– Villarreal in Zagreb –
Moreno has 23 goals in 32 games this season, including a triplet last Saturday in the league against Granada.
“He gives us a goal, a lot of presence, a lot of work,” Villarreal coach Unai Emery praised his striker, who is looking for his fourth European League, after the three he won with Sevilla.
The ‘Yellow Submarine’, who is sixth in the Spanish championship and remains undefeated in the Europa League, is emerging as a slight favorite, but he cannot be neglected against a Dinamo that eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16 (0-2, 3-0) .
“It will be a close tie, but it will be easier for us to play Villarreal because now we have shown that we can match teams like Tottenham,” said midfielder Mislav Orsic.
Among the other contenders for a place in the semifinals, Ajax Amsterdam will host Roma, after beating Swiss Young Boys in the previous round.
The Dutch team receives the Italians with the sensitive loss of its defense Daley Blind, who injured his left ankle with his team last week in the qualifying duel for Qatar-2022 against Gibraltar.
The other big surprise of the competition, Slavia Prague visit Arsenal, after getting off Leicester in the round of 16 and Rangers in the round of 16.
Arsenal, tenth in the English league, looks to the Europa League as the easiest way to have a place in the next edition of the Champions League.
– Program of the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Europa League (GMT hours):
(19h00) Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) – Villarreal (ESP)
Ajax (NED) – Roma (ITA)
Arsenal (ENG) – Slavia Praga (CZE)
Granada (ESP) – Manchester United (ENG)