The Quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup will begin on April 9 and will conclude on April 16! The UEFA Cup always takes a backseat to the Champions League, and it doesn’t help when some clubs (like Aston Villa or Tottenham) don’t seem to take it seriously. However, with the way the competition has expanded over the years, and the fact that there are more clubs than ever in the qualification rounds and group stages, the UEFA Cup has become Europe’s biggest cup competition in terms of sheer numbers.
Additionally, in recent years, the UEFA Cup has provided a stage for some of Europe’s best and brightest talents. Andrei Arshavin put himself on the map with a strong UEFA Cup campaign in 2007-2008 (culminating with a Man of the Match honor in the Final). Daniel Alves won back-to-back UEFA Cups with Sevilla and parlayed his success in the competition into a big-money move to Barcelona. Jose Mourinho’s Porto squad built on the success of a 2003 UEFA Cup title to win the Champions League the next season, thereby starting the legend of “The Special One.”
As you can see, the UEFA Cup is clearly more than a second-tier cup competition in Europe. The stakes are high as each of these eight clubs have made it this far and will want to go for glory, in this, the final year of the UEFA Cup before the start of the UEFA Europa League. Manchester City will look to get some kind of return on their excessive spending by winning the UEFA Cup. But first, they’ll have to get past Martin Jol and Hamburg SV. Two French teams will do battle with two Ukrainian teams as Shakhtar Donetsk will battle Marseille while Dynamo Kiev will face Paris St. Germain. Finally, two disappointing teams in Werder Breman and Udinese will meet in a battle to salvage their seasons.
Here are detailed previews of each matchup:
2008-09 UEFA Cup
Thursday April 9 / Thursday April 16
|Hamburg vs. Manchester City|
|Paris SG vs. Dynamo Kiev|
|Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Marseille|
|Werder Bremen vs. Udinese|
Soccerlens UEFA Cup / Champions League Coverage: