5.08.2020Europa League

Europa League restart: Late shifts for top teams

At full-time in the Round of 16 first leg between Rangers and the Werkself (1-3) at the legendary Ibrox Stadium on 12 March, nobody would have suspected it would be the last action in the Europa League for almost the next five months. But play was stopped by the coronavirus pandemic – up to this Wednesday. European club football returns. looks at the four matches on Wednesday.

One match in particular, with a late kick-off, could be of special interest to supporters of the Black and Reds. The Italian league runners-up Inter Milan and Spanish club Getafe face each other at 21.00 CET (live on DAZN). The quarter-finalists will, in this case, – other than with Bayer 04 and Rangers – be determined in one match as the first leg due to be played in March fell victim to the pandemic. The 'Nerazzurri' and the club from the metropolitan area of Madrid face meet at a neutral venue in Gelsenkirchen. The winners of the match on 10 August (21.00 CET) will play the Werkself or Rangers in Düsseldorf in the quarter-finals of the Europa League tournament in North-Rhine Westphalia.

Getafe expert: "Inter are clear favourites"

Getafe ended the La Liga season affected by the coronavirus pandemic in eighth place and thereby missed out on qualifying for the Europa League in the coming season. While the Spaniards played their last competitive match in the middle of July, Inter were still playing in Serie A last weekend where they secured a third win in succession (2-0) in the top match at Atalanta Bergamo. Not least because of the impressive form of the 'Nerazzurri' after the break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, Getafe expert Emilio Contreras ( declared ahead of the Round of 16 tie: "Inter are the clear favourites. Based on the history of club, the squad and because they – unlike Getafe – have kept playing. I think the Italians have an 80% chance even though Getafe are always dangerous and will put up a fight."

According to Contreras, one advantage for his fellow countrymen, with the experienced captain Jorge Molina the leader in the dressing room, is the fact it’s a one-off match rather than the originally planned two legs: "That's always an advantage for the team with less quality."

The Italian correspondent and Inter expert at the football journal kicker, also sees the team from Milan as the favourites. "Inter have equalled the points records from the treble year of 2010 in Serie A with 82 points. At the same time, the pattern of a game every three days did take its toll at the end of the league campaign," said Oliver Birkner. "Whether Getafe, with a break of two and a half weeks, or Inter, with the busy run of fixtures up to a few days ago, are in a better place – will only become clear after the game."

Manchester United clear favourites

At the same time as the clash between Inter and Getafe, and also at 21.0 CET (live on DAZN), another fancied side from England are back on the European stage. After the 5-0 victory in the first leg at the Austrian club Linzer ASK, Manchester United's progress to the quarter-finals should be a formality. The match is being played at Old Trafford as the first leg was staged in Austria immediately before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing suspension of play.

The Red Devils have been flying high since the restart with their only defeat a semi-final exit in the FA Cup against Chelsea (1-3) and an unbeaten run at the end of the league campaign bringing a third-place finish in the Premier League. The team from the North of England want to crown a successful 2020 with the Europa League title.

Wolfsburg and Co. in the early evening

FC Copenhagen and Istanbul club Basaksehir kick off at 18.55 CET (live on DAZN). The Scandinavians have to come back from a 1-0 defeat in Turkey in the first leg to be able to reach the quarter-finals of a big European competition for the first time in the club's history. As with Manchester United and LASK, Bayer 04, given the right results, could only play FC Copenhagen or Basaksehir in the final.

The situation is different for the pairing of VfL Wolfsburg and Shakhtar Donetsk. The team from Lower Saxony need to make amends in Kharkiv for the 2-1 home defeat in the Round of 16 first leg. The Werkself could meet the winner of this match, given progress in the Round of 16 and the quarter-finals, in the semi-final in Düsseldorf on 17 August (21.00 CET).

EL final in Cologne

The Europa League final is due to be played in Cologne on 21 August (21.00 CET). All the remaining matches in the competition will be played behind closed doors and in North-Rhine Westphalia from the quarter-finals; the venues are in Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Gelsenkirchen and Cologne.



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