Bayer Leverkusen meets Belgian European Cup newcomers Union Saint-Gilloise in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. That was the result of the draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
The Werkself will first play at their home BayArena on April 13th. The second leg will take place in Belgium on April 20th. "They are unpleasant opponents. Like against Ferencvaros, we have to be very focused and concentrated and avoid mistakes. If we can do that, we have a good chance," said coach Xabi Alonso in Budapest shortly before the return flight to Germany.
Saint-Gilloise eliminated Union Berlin (3-3, 3-0) in the round of 16, while Leverkusen beat Ferencvaros Budapest 2-0 twice. "They're a top opponent, as you saw against Union. We're happy that we've only got the home game," said Leverkusen's sporting director Simon Rolfes. Were Bayer to reach the round of the top four teams (May 11 and 18), the winners of the quarter-finals between Feyenoord Rotterdam and AS Roma would be the opponents - and initially away.
Leverkusen will not meet one of the greats until the final on May 31 in the Puskas Arena in Budapest at the earliest. Because in the other quarter-finals there will be top duels between Manchester United and record winners FC Sevilla as well as Juventus Turin and Sporting Lisbon. "When it comes to the final, you can play against anyone. But our focus is only on the next round," said Rolfes.
Rolfes left no doubt about the quality of the European Cup newcomers Saint-Gilloise. "They have played Union four times and lost only once. We saw it with Club Brugge, who were top of our group: the Belgian league is good," he said.