Europa League preview and odds: Thursday 4 April

The Europa League quarter final second leg matches are played on Thursday night, with three ties firmly in the balance. Only Athletic Bilbao can feel reasonably confident of reaching the semi-finals after their amazing 4-2 win at Schalke which came hard on the heels of a 5-3 aggregate win against Manchester United

Athletic Bilbao v FC Schalke 04
It has been a strange season for Bilbao, whose looked at one stage as though they would challenge for a top four place in La Liga, although the team’s domestic form has suffered in recent weeks as progress is made in the Europa League.

The Spanish side are on the verge of a semi-final place after recovering from going 2-1 down to win 4-2 in Germany last week and Athletic can be backed at 10/11 (Ladbrokes free bet) to claim a second leg win.

Schalke will have to come out and attack after conceding four away goals in front of their own supporters, although they are available at 10/3 (Bet Victor) to get the win that they most certainly need to stand any chance of going through.

Two Spanish strikers will be going head to head, with veteran forward Raul and Fernando Llorente having both scored in the first leg.

Hannover 96 v Atletico Madrid
Another Germany v Spain contest takes place on Thursday, with Eduardo Salvio’s late winner giving Atletico Madrid the very slight edge against Hannover going into the second leg this week.

The Spanish team have an excellent recent record in this competition and can be backed at 6/4 (Stan James free bets) to claim victory although their opponents will feel as though a semi-final place is within reach after a great display at the Estadio Vicente Calderón.

Hannover have won their last three home games which include a 4-0 win over Standard Liege and a 4-1 win over Cologne so they are capable of claiming a win to take them through against Atletico, with odds of 21/10 (Bet Victor) available about a team that have former Manchester United forward Mame Biraf Diouf playing for them.

Metalist Kharkiv v Sporting CP
Cleiton Xavier’s 90th minute penalty has swung this Europa League quarter final tie back in favour of the Ukrainian side, who will now fancy their chances of pressing home the advantage against a team that knocked Manchester City out in the previous round.

Metalist Kharkiv are strong favourites to claim victory and some firms go odds-on about them winning this match, although odds of 11/10 are available at Ladbrokes.

Sporting will be looking for some away goals of their own, just as they managed at Eastlands when racing into a 2-0 lead which meant a 3-2 defeat was good enough to go through. That is why the Portuguese side are favourites to go through here.

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