MN: From Benfica to Bayer Leverkusen – Milan’s potential UEL opponents ranked

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan will find out their opponents for the quarter-finals during today’s Europa League draw in Nyon, and there are certainly some teams that are more daunting than others on paper.

MilanNews have taken a look at the draw ranking the teams from least to most difficult, starting with Marseille who made things difficult in the last 16 against Villarreal after winning the first leg 4-0. They were 3-0 down late on, but Jonathan Clauss’ goal in added time took away all fears.

The Ligue 1 side are on paper perhaps the weakest team and this is already indicative of how high the level of this Europa League is. They have had three coaches so far this season, with Gennaro Gattuso among them, and their star man is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is also the top scorer in this Europa League with nine goals.

West Ham are next. They are the holders of the Conference League thanks to which they qualified for the Europa League despite finishing 14th in the Premier League. They defeated SC Freiburg in the round of 16 after having also got the better of them in the group stage.

It has been a season of highs and lows for them domestically, with the lowest point being the 6-0 home defeat on 11 February against Arsenal which intensified the calls for David Moyes to be sacked. Among their ranks is Lucas Paqueta.

Atalanta‘s victory against Sporting CP means that they are in the final eight of a European competition for the fifth time in their history. In the Europa League they have had only one defeat in the last 21 games, which was the second leg of the quarter-finals of the 2021-22 edition against Leipzig.

In the league they are still fighting for Champions League qualification and this could take away their energy unless they choose to go all-in on the Europa League. Their team is familiar to Milan, as are the likes of Charles De Ketelaere and Mario Pasalic.

Then we come to Benfica, who were the revelation of the Champions League last season, but this year they appear in the quarter-finals of the Europa League having been relegated from the top continental tournament.

In November their head coach Roger Schmidt was one step away from being sacked and was saved by a thrilling derby against Sporting CP which included an injury time winner. They are second in the league, and their 4-2-3-1 features players like Rafa Silva plus Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Itamendi.

Under Daniele De Rossi the music changed for Roma, a sign that the players – or at least a not insignificant part of the squad – no longer followed José Mourinho. They sent a statement by destroying De Zerbi’s Brighton in the first leg, completing the job last night.

Recent history teaches that the Giallorossi are among the strongest in Europe: ninth place in the UEFA ranking says this but above all the two consecutive finals reached between the Conference League and Europa League. They now play a 4-3-3, bringing the best out of players like Romelu Lukaku and Paulo Dybala.

Bayer Leverkusen are definitely the team in the best form after 37 matches played this season with zero defeats. With nine matches remaining in the Bundesliga, their advantage over Bayern Munich is 10 points while in the German Cup Levrkusen will play the semi-final against Fortuna Dusseldorf, a second division team.

In the Europa League they reached the quarter-finals after winning all their group stage matches but suffered in the round of 16 against Qarabag, twice finding themselves 2-0 down but battling back. Last night, Patrick Schick scored two goals in injury time to get them through.

Finally, Liverpool are inevitably the big favourite. Jurgen Klopp announced his farewell at the end of the season in January and this decision motivated his group even more, determined to give their leader all the trophies available.

They won the League Cup on February 25 and on Sunday they are in the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United. The Reds are first in the league, tied with Arsenal and one point ahead of Manchester City. The 4-3-3 and gegenpressing is Klopp’s trademark, and their stars need little introduction.


Tags AC Milan


  1. Acmilan can beat any team but our problem is the defense if Pioli can use Kjaer and Gabbia as partners confidently I can tell you is difficult to concede goal and again using Okafor to support cheek like second half to score more is good but my dear and problem is tomori he doesn’t know how to mark he is too fast and make a lot of mistakes so I advised that tomori should not participate in our Europa tournament to avoid danger of goals from opponents so now I advised Pioli to consider something from the attached like checkmating another role for Noah Okafor may be since we have chukwueze Okafor should substitute Pulisic then chukwueze should start playing the attacking midfield like
    Florenzi, Kjaer, Gabbia, Theo Hernandez
    Benercer, rejnder
    Pulisic/Okafor, Loftus cheek,leao
    Loftus cheek or chukwueze, so his time for Pioli to give chukwueze new role as attacking midfield.

    1. LOL, what??? Tomori is our best defender.

      No Pulisic? He is one of our top 3 players.

      Jovic instead of Giroud? Yeah, right.

      Fortunately you are not our head coach.

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