Liverpool face Atalanta in Europa League quarters

AFP , Friday 15 Mar 2024

Liverpool will play Italian outfit Atalanta in the quarter-finals of this season's Europa League after the teams were paired together in Friday's draw, which left open the possibility of the Anfield side meeting Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen in the final.

Liverpool s manager Jurgen Klopp smiles at the players at the end of the Europa League round of 16, second leg, soccer match between Liverpool and Sparta Praha at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Thursday March 14, 2024. AP


Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, who are still in contention to win a quadruple this season, will entertain Atalanta at Anfield on April 11 and go to Italy a week later for the return.

The Reds hammered Sparta Prague 11-2 on aggregate on the last 16 and will be favourites to beat Atalanta, who currently lie sixth in Serie A.

The clubs met in the group stage of the Champions League in 2020/21, with Liverpool winning 5-0 away in Bergamo and Atalanta winning 2-0 at Anfield.

Leverkusen are enjoying a remarkable season under former Liverpool midfielder Alonso, who is one of the leading contenders to replace Klopp as manager at Anfield when the German steps down at the end of the campaign.

Winners of the UEFA Cup, the Europa League's predecessor, in 1988, Leverkusen have not lost a game all season and are currently 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with nine matches left.

Their unbeaten record very nearly ended on Thursday, when they trailed 2-1 in injury time at home to Qarabag before a stunning comeback to win 3-2 against the side from Azerbaijan.

That allowed them to win their last-16 tie 5-4 on aggregate.

Leverkusen will face West Ham United -- last season's Europa Conference League winners -- in the quarter-finals, with the English side having beaten another German club in Freiburg in the last round.

The winners of that tie will advance to a semi-final against either AC Milan or Roma, who will face off in an all-Italian last-eight tie.

The other quarter-final brings together two former European champions, with Marseille taking on Benfica.

Whoever wins that will play either Liverpool or Atalanta in the last four.

This season's Europa League final will be played in Dublin on May 22.

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