The performance against AC Millan ensured Arsenal got there with a favourable tie against CSKA Moscow, but the Europa League quarter-final draw does not by any means suggest an open competition. Even outside of Atlético Madrid, there are some tough potential opponents in the quarter-finals should Arsenal get there.
Below is a quick guide to all the teams in the quarterfinal, taking a look at their odds, domestic form and aspirations going forward:
QF Opponent: Sporting Lisbon
Is there a team in the world more synonymous with their manager than Atlético Madrid? Ironically, many people would counter that with Arsenal and Arsène Wenger. Regardless, Diego Simeone has kept Atlético at the very top of European football for the last five years. They have emerged as Barcelona’s sole challengers in La Liga this year and have been in very fine form recently, demolishing Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1 on aggregate in the last round. No wonder they are 11/8 favourites for the tournament.
QF Opponent: CSKA Moscow
Not much can be said here that hasn’t been said a million times before. Arsenal should be aiming for the Final here at least and could go toe to toe with Atlético on their day. The main concern is that Arsenal have ‘one of those days’ before they stamp their ticket to Lyon on 16th May. They should beat CSKA Moscow though. Odds are currently 3/1.
QF Opponent: RB Salzburg
Simone Inzaghi’s men have gone under the radar as one of the most exciting teams in Europe this season. They play exciting, attacking football and have usurped the big-spending Milan clubs in the race for a Champions League spot in Serie A. Much depends on the rejuvenated Ciro Immobile, but their odds of 15/2 are very tempting. You can check out this updated list of no deposit free bet offers, because backing Lazio as a shot to nothing looks like a no brainer.
QF Opponent: RB Leipzig
The bookies are finding it hard to split Marseille and their quarter-final opponents Leipzig in the betting odds, with both available around 9/1 or 10/1. The French side may have a slender advantage playing away in the first leg, but they also have a tendency to ‘blow up’ in matches. Both are involved in tough battles to secure Champions League spots in their domestic leagues. It’s hard to call.
As mentioned above, Leipzig have to balance the game with Marseille with commitments to the Top 4 race in Germany. At the moment, like Arsenal, they are in sixth place in the league. Unlike Arsenal, they are just two points off a Champions League spot and six points off Borussia Dortmund in second. Timo Werner is the man to watch here. The 22-year-old can be electrifying when the mood takes him and could be the deciding factor in this tie.
While Lazio will be overwhelming favourites to dispatch Salzburg and march on to the semi-finals, the Austrian side should not be underestimated. Their win in the last round against Borussia Dortmund was no fluke – they were the better side in both legs. 16/1 odds for the Austrians to win the Europa League.
It will be incredibly surprising if Sporting can get past Atlético here. They are involved in a three-way tussle to win the Portuguese title and might better spend their energy on that. Current odds of 25/1 seem short, if anything.
The fixture is going to be dominated by talk of UK/Russia relations, so let’s hope Arsenal’s solid football is the only other talking point of the tie. They are rank outsiders to win the tournament at 33/1. Surely the bookmakers have not made a mistake?