Europa League preview: Klopp faces old friends, La Liga v. La Liga, more

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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Whether it be odds-on favorite Borussia Dortmund or long shots Braga and Sparta Prague, one of eight teams is just five matches away from lifting the UEFA Cup.

[ UCL: Wolfsburg shocks Real Madrid | PSG, Man City draw ]

The Europa League quarterfinals provide us a high-profile match between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, as well as an all-Spanish faceoff in Sevilla and two chances for big upsets in Portugal and Spain.

All matches kickoff at 3:05 p.m. ET

Borussia Dortmund vs. Liverpool

If history mattered in this competition, Liverpool would be buoyed by its three titles. The Reds would join Sevilla as the most decorated club in Europa League/UEFA Cup history if they ran to the finals and won. BVB are no slouches either, yet to win the tournament but twice a finalist.

Villarreal vs. Sparta Prague

Sparta is arguably the darling of the tournament, entering in the playoff round and defeating Thun, finishing second to Schalke in Group K and then knocking out Krasnodar and Lazio. Now, they get a Villarreal team who’s likely headed to the UEFA Champions League next season.

Considered the biggest underdog in terms of getting a result on Thursday, Sparta is hoping to sneak up on the Yellow Submarines.

Athletic Bilbao vs. Sevilla

The champ is here! Sevilla is looking to keep up its bid to repeat as Europa League winners, but will have to get through domestic rivals. Los Leones, for their part, boast the tournament’s leading scorer in Aritz Aduriz.

How even are these two? They’ve the same amount of La Liga points and are just two goals apart in differential. Sevilla nabbed the only head-to-head honors of the season so far, a shutout win in Seville on Jan. 9.

Sevilla has won four Europa League titles, while an Athletic title would be arguably the highest honor won by the club.

Braga vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Each of these sides has been to the mountain top, though Shakhtar won it all in 2009 while Braga fell in an all-Portuguese final two years later.