It was another crazy, crazy week in the UEFA Europa League. Rangers defeated Braga in extra time. Christopher Nkunku scored a brace to lead RB Leipzig past Atalanta, cementing the revival of the club under Domenico Tedesco. West Ham produced a performance for the ages, smashing Lyon 3-0 in France.
The semi-finals are set! 🤩
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 14, 2022
However, the biggest talking point has been Frankfurt dumping out Barcelona at the Spotify Camp Nou. Though the Catalans scored twice late on, the controversy about how so many away fans were inside the stadium rumbles on.
Nevertheless, the stage is set for the semi-final later this month. FootTheBall has got you covered regarding all you need to know as the Europa League enters its penultimate stage.
When is it taking place?
The semi-finals of the Europa League will take place on April 28. Both the fixtures will kick off at the same time (7 pm/UK time). The second leg will be held on May 6 at the same time.
Which teams are playing?
The two ties are:
- RB Leipzig vs Rangers (first leg)
- West Ham United vs Eintracht Frankfurt (first leg)
All four teams would not have been considered strong contenders for the Europa League trophy when the competition began. Moreover, all of these teams have gone through turmoil this season. It is incredibly hard to pick a favorite right now but these matchups have thrown up several intriguing storylines.
Read also: The goalkeeper of the future for RB Leipzig
The subplots to watch out for
Needless to say, the fact that there are so many unpredictable teams, the themes of the ties will be unique. Therefore, it makes sense to analyze each team in detail and what can be expected from them.
It has been a rollercoaster of a season for Leipzig. The season promised much under Jesse Marsch but went downhill quickly. They were dropping fast down the table and that was when Domenico Tedesco was brought in. He has overseen a mammoth turnaround with Leipzig on course for a return to the Champions League.
Just the 4⃣8⃣ goal contributions for Christopher Nkunku this season 🤯 pic.twitter.com/c3oZJQ3cV7
— LiveScore (@livescore) April 15, 2022
Christopher Nkunku is having a truly ridiculous season of 48 goal contributions (30 goals, 18 assists) across all competitions. Josko Gvardiol has emerged as a true star in the backline while Dani Olmo is getting back to his old form. They will certainly fancy their chances of going all the way and winning it all.
Steven Gerrard’s departure to Aston Villa could have seen the club go off the rails. However, Giovanni van Bronckhorst has steadied the ship well, having suffered only two defeats in the league. Those losses have come against Celtic, who have sealed the Scottish title. Rangers had a record-breaking season last year and this year has been another solid one as well. Braga were blown away in extra time but the next challenge will be much harder. Leipzig are no pushovers and most likely the in-form team of Europe.
David Moyes proving himself to be Goliath right now. Having guided the Hammers to Premier League safety in his early days, Moyes is taking Europe by storm. The definitive win against Lyon was another statement of how far they have come in recent times. Jarrod Bowen has developed into a world-class talent while Declan Rice is one of the best in his position. What has been most impressive is how a centre-back pairing of Craig Dawson and Issa Diop. West Ham are also in the fight for a European place for next season and llookswell set to be back. Can Moyes go and win the trophy? It is possible, surely.
A collection of hard working players who give it their all every time. Oliver Glasner has transformed this group into world-beaters. Filip Kostic continues to remind everyone why he is the driving force. Daichi Kamada is coming into his own and Frankfurt have some great young players in Ansgar Knauff and Jesper Lindstrom. Frankfurt have immense belief in themselves, and were not fazed in the face of greater opposition at an away game. These are the kind of signs that give belief to the Germans who are looking to land their second European trophy.