MATCHDAY: Europa semifinals; Man United hosts Chelsea in EPL
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday:
After Eintracht Frankfurt fans took over the Camp Nou for their upset quarterfinal win over Barcelona, London is the next destination as their team plays West Ham in the first leg of the semifinals. Club president Peter Fischer has suggested that the thousands of fans heading to England could party outside Buckingham Palace. Both clubs are bidding to reach what would be their biggest match in decades — Frankfurt’s last final came when it won the old UEFA Cup in 1980, and West Ham’s last game of that stature was the 1976 Cup Winner’s Cup final. In the other semifinal, Rangers are bringing plenty of fans to Leipzig as they seek to stun German opposition for the second time this season after earlier eliminating Borussia Dortmund. Leipzig beat Atalanta to reach this stage and is aiming for its first-ever European final.
EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
First-leg semifinals of the UEFA Europa Conference League — the new third tier of European competition — features Roma at Leicester and Marseille at Feyenoord. Roma manager José Mourinho faces his apprentice, Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers, who was appointed to Chelsea’s academy during Mourinho’s first stint with the London club. Roma striker Tammy Abraham and Leicester counterpart Jamie Vardy are vying for a spot in England’s team at the World Cup. It’s an especially poignant match for Abraham, who left Chelsea last year after falling out of favor with the English club and is returning to his home country to show how far he has progressed, with 24 goals in 46 matches across all competitions this season with Roma. A large contingent of Roma fans are traveling to the game. Feyenoord striker Cyriel Dessers is tied with Abraham for the competition lead with eight goals each. Feyenoord and Marseille are both former European Cup champions, with Feyenoord having won Europe’s premier competition in 1970 and Marseille having lifted the Champions League trophy in 1993.
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick thinks the Champions League places are already out of reach ahead of a home match against Chelsea, with defender Harry Maguire and forward Jadon Sancho the latest injury absentees. It’s one of four remaining Premier League games for United, which is six points behind fourth-place Arsenal having played a match more. Midfielder Paul Pogba, forward Edinson Cavani and left back Luke Shaw are also sidelined for United, while right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also a doubt. Chelsea is more comfortable in the top four, sitting in third place, five points ahead of Arsenal. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel hopes defenders Antonio Rüdiger and Reece James will be able to return to action at Old Trafford, but midfielder Mateo Kovacic will miss out due to an ankle ligament injury.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports