MATCHDAY: Man U-Roma, Villarreal-Arsenal in EL semifinals

·2 min read

A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Thursday:

EUROPA LEAGUE:

MANCHESTER UNITED-ROMA

Man United is in the semifinals for the second straight year, having lost to eventual winner Sevilla last season. Indeed, the English club is hoping it is fifth time lucky in major semifinals, having lost at this stage four times in the past year and a half under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — twice in the English League Cup and also in the FA Cup. Solskjaer said Marcus Rashford is available after shrugging off a foot injury. Roma is looking for revenge following a 7-1 rout by United at Old Trafford in the 2006-07 Champions League. That was a game that current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played in. Giallorossi supporters have seized on recent comments from Solskjaer reportedly saying he “doesn’t know Roma well” and hadn’t seen them play. Roma fans responded by pasting posters of Solskjaer around their city accompanied by a message: “Make it so he remembers us!”

VILLARREAL-ARSENAL

It's a match between the present and past clubs of Unai Emery, the king of the Europa League after three straight wins as Sevilla coach from 2014-16. Emery is in his first season with Villarreal, having been fired by Arsenal in November 2019 after 18 turbulent months. Even in the tough times at Arsenal, he managed to lead the English club to the Europa League final — a 4-1 loss to Chelsea — so is looking to get to the competition's title match for the fifth time. Arsenal could welcome back captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has missed the last four games after contracting malaria during the March international break. Fellow striker Alexandre Lacazette has overcome a hamstring complaint. Villarreal is making its fifth attempt to reach a European final, having failed in all previous occasions, including against Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League and against Liverpool in the 2016 Europa League.

SPAIN

Barcelona can take over the Spanish league lead for the first time with a win against Granada at the Camp Nou Stadium. A home victory would lift the Catalan club a point above Atlético Madrid, which has led the league for most of season but struggled recently. Diego Simeone's team is coming off a 2-1 loss at Athletic Bilbao. Thursday's match was postponed earlier because of Barcelona's participation in the Copa del Rey Final a few weeks ago.

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