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Europa League: Belgians hope to give Bayer Leverkusen the blues

The cream has risen to the top in the Europa League with a star-studded look to the quarter-final line-up.

Italian giants Roma and Juventus will lock horns with Feyenoord and Sporting Lisbon respectively in a couple of mouthwatering ties between four continental big-hitters.

Manchester United's showdown with Sevilla is arguably even bigger still.

Then there's German stars Bayer Leverkusen up against Belgian rookies Union Saint Gilloise, the smalltown club from the suburbs of Brussels who are providing the romance in the latter stages of this year's competition.

The first legs take place on Thursday evening, with every tie holding plenty of intrigue.

Mourinho aims for Feyenoord repeat

WhatFeyenoord v Roma
WhereDe Kuip, Rotterdam
When17:45, Thursday 13th April
How to watchBT Sport 3
OddsFeyenoord 11/8, Draw 11/5, Roma 11/5

Less than 12 months after Feyenoord and Roma met in the final of the inaugural Europa Conference League, they cross swords once more in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final in Rotterdam.

Back in May in Tirana it was Roma boss Jose Mourinho who outwitted opposite number Arne Slot, the Italian giants winning 1-0 courtesy of Nicolo Zaniolo's goal.

Zaniolo has moved on, but Mourinho and Slot remain in situ to try to mastermind some sort of an advantage before the clubs reconvene in the Eternal City next week.

Feyenoord are given odds of 11/8, with Roma priced at 11/5, and both teams will take good form into De Kuip which will be absolutely bouncing come kick-off.

Slot's stars are poised to break the Ajax-PSV Eindhoven duopoly in the Netherlands after Sunday's 5-1 win over RKC Waalwijk - their eighth league win in a row - maintained their eight-point lead.

Even though they struggled to qualify for the knockout rounds - topping a wide-open group with just eight points - they crushed Shakhtar Donetsk 8-2 in the round-of-16.

Roma, in contrast, don't concede many, indeed none at all in two matches with Real Sociedad in the last round, a tie they won 2-0 on aggregate.

They go into the game on the back of a pair of wins to nil over Sampdoria and Torino to move them up to third in Serie A.

Depending on whether you think Feyenoord's lethal attack or Roma's stifling defence will prevail on the day will determine whether 13/10 over 2.5 goals or 8/13 under 2.5 is the value.

Leverkusen on a hot streak

WhatBayer Leverkusen v Union Saint Gilloise
WhereBayArena, Leverkusen
When20:00, Thursday 13th April
How to watchBT Sport Extra
OddsBayer Leverkusen 8/15, Draw 16/5, Union Saint Gilloise 5/1

The romance in this season's Europa League has come from Belgian upstarts Union Saint Gilloise, who only ended a 48-year absence from the First Division A two years ago and now find themselves within touching distance of a European final.

The Belgians are anticipating a tough evening at the BayArena, however, and 8/15 shots Leverkusen will fancy their chances given the form they are in.

But they certainly won't take lightly a side who won at another Bundesliga side, Union Berlin, in the group stage and then thrashed the same team 6-3 on aggregate in the round-of-16.

Karel Geraerts' men are also challenging for the title domestically once again, and while they may be unheralded, they are under-rated at their peril.

That said, Xabi Alonso's Leverkusen are on a seven-game winning streak which includes a 2-1 triumph at home to Bayern Munich.

Goals look a certainty - it's 8/11 over 2.5 and 4/5 that both teams score.

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Sporting make for a tough test

WhatJuventus v Sporting Lisbon
WhereJuventus Stadium, Turin
When20:00, Thursday 13th April
How to watchBT Sport 3
OddsJuventus 5/6, Draw 12/5, Sporting 15/4

Juventus' last double-header with Portuguese opposition was in the group stage of this season's Champions League and that ended badly for the Italians, beaten home and away by Benfica.

That paved the way for demotion to the Europa League and then came the 15-point deduction which leaves their Serie A top-four prospects hanging by a thread.

So the Europa League suddenly becomes a big deal for Juve, who are 11/2 to lift the trophy but know they face a tough test from Sporting.

Juve's form - until Saturday's 2-1 loss at Lazio - had been solid, though there's nothing particularly inspiring about Max Allegri's side.

They stifled Nantes and Freiburg into submission in the two previous rounds and will hope to do the same to Sporting, a side who are buzzing after knocking out Arsenal on penalties.

That's a measure of what Sporting can do, though the fact they are fourth behind Braga in a Primeira Liga where a top-three finish is usually a given demonstrates there's an absence of consistency from Ruben Amorim's men.

Juventus and both teams not to score will surely be a popular bet at 13/8.

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