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Europa League Preview: Man United hosts Anderlecht, Lyon travels to Besiktas, and more

The UEFA Europa League quarterfinal round concludes on Thursday as eight teams look to continue their fight for a semifinal berth.

Manchester United hosts Belgian side Anderlecht at Old Trafford, while Lyon travels to Turkey for a battle with Besiktas.

The other two matches are Schalke-Ajax and Genk-Celta Vigo. Four of the top five domestic leagues are represented in these quarterfinal matchups, with some underrated sides looking to spoil the party.

Here’s a closer look at Thursday’s second leg matches:

MANCHESTER UNITED VS. ANDERLECHT (AGGREGATE 1-1) (3:05 p.m., Fox Sports 1, Fox Soccer 2 Go)

With a top-four finish in the Premier League still on their minds as well, Jose Mourinho’s men look to also continue their run towards a European trophy.

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw in Belgium last Thursday, with the hosts getting a late equalizer from 22-year-old midfielder Leander Dendoncker. Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave the Red Devils a first-half lead, but the visitors couldn’t hang on to it away from home.

Anderlecht is coming off a 1-0 league victory on April 16, while Manchester United defeated EPL leaders Chelsea, 2-0, at Old Trafford. Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads United with five goals in the UEL so far, while Lukasz Tedorczyk has seven goals for Anderlecht.

BESIKTAS VS. LYON (LYON LEAD, 2-1, ON AGGREGATE) (3:05 p.m., Fox Sports 2, Fox Soccer 2 Go)

After a dramatic 2-1 first leg victory at the Parc OL last week, Lyon will look to hold off a strong Besiktas side in Istanbul on Thursday.

Bruno Genesio’s side fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to defeat the Turkish leaders a week ago. Goals from Corentin Tolisso and Jeremy Morel a minute apart moved Lyon a step closer to booking their spot in the semifinals.

Midfielder Nabil Fekir leads the team with four goals in the competition, while striker Alexandre Lacazette is always a threat up top. While also leading the Turkish Super Lig by a five point margin, Besiktas will look to book their first ever semifinal appearance in this competition.

Strikers Vincent Aboubakar and Cenk Tosun have combined for six goals so far, and will be expected to lead the line on Thursday.

SCHALKE VS. AJAX (AJAX LEAD, 2-0, ON AGGREGATE) (3:05 p.m., Fox Soccer 2 Go)

Despite an up and down campaign in the Bundesliga, Schalke will look to turn around a first leg deficit against Ajax. The German side is looking to lift their second ever Europa League trophy, and their first since 1996-97.

Schalke was dominated a week ago, allowing 12 shots on goal compared to their two. Guido Bergstaller is expected to lead the line for Schalke, with Klass-Jan Hunterlaar always an option off the bench. Max Meyer is the player to watch in their build-up play, while Nabil Bentaleb provides some physicality in the midfield.

A brace from midfielder Davy Klaassen sparked Ajax to a 2-0 first leg victory in Amsterdam a week ago, which sees the Eredivisie side one match away from a spot in the semifinals. 17-year-old forward Justin Kluivert is a playmaker to watch in Ajax’s build-up play, while former Chelsea man Bertrand Traore is their top striker.


In the final quarterfinal tie, Belgian outfit Genk welcomes La Liga’s Celta Vigo to town. The hosts have already eliminated Astra Giurgiu and KAA Gent from the competition, and will look to make Celta Vigo their third casualty.

36-year-old Thomas Buffel is an experienced player for Genk who has three goals so far. Alex Pozuelo leads the team with six assists, while striker Mbwana Aly Samatta has five goals in the competition.

Celta Vigo used a three-goal first half to pull away from Genk in the opening leg, and will hope to put the hosts away early in Thursday’s second leg.

Iago Aspas (five goals) and John Guidetti (four goals) lead the attack for Eduardo Berizzo’s side, who will need a total team effort away from home to advance.

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