Europa League quarter-finals: Liverpool's Klopp set for Dortmund return
The Europa League returns to action on Thursday, with a number of intriguing fixtures in the quarter-finals stage.
The most interesting match-up sees Jurgen Klopp take his Liverpool side to face former employers Borussia Dortmund in what should be an emotionally charged clash.
The German trainer revolutionized the Signal Iduna Park outfit over seven years at the club, winning two Bundesliga titles and leading the team to the 2013 Champions League final.
These achievements made Klopp one of the most sought-after coaches in European football, with the passionate trainer moving to Anfield earlier this term.
Although a place in the Premier League top four appears out of reach for the Reds, winning the European competition would give the Merseysiders access to next season's Champions League – and as such should be Klopp's priority.
Liverpool eliminated age-old enemies Manchester United in the last round and will fancy their chances of competition glory should Klopp be ableto mastermind a defeat of his old team.
Dortmund showed their undoubted class by thumping Tottenham in the last round and the opposition trainer will know just how much quality resides in the hosts' starting eleven.
There is every chance that the victor over the two legs will be favorites to win the tournament, with the first game in Germany critical in determining who will progress.
Elsewhere, Spanish sides Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla are set to meet in an all-La Liga affair.
Sevilla have won the tournament for the last two years and have dropped down to the second-tier competition again after a third-place finish in their Champions League group.
The Spanish rivals are both locked on 48 points in La Liga and currently sit sixth and seventh respectively, and winning the Europa League appears necessary if either is to play in the continent's top tournament next season.
Sevilla were impressive in eliminating Basel last time round, while Bilbao overcame another Spanish side, Valencia.
Fellow La Liga team Villarreal could be considered dark horses following their defeat of Bayer Leverkusen in the last round and will fancy their chances of booking a semi-final spot after being paired with Sparta Prague.
The Yellow Submarine's glory days appear to be returning, with the El Madrigal outfit having an eight-point cushion in fourth place of the Spanish top flight.
Sparta shocked Lazio in the last round, winning the second leg 3-0 in Italy, and as such should not be written off.
However, Villarreal will look to claim victory in the first leg at home to facilitate their progression to the latter stages.
Finally, Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga will clash in Portugal on Thursday in what looks like an evenly matched contest.
The Ukrainians are seasoned European campaigners but lost star man Alex Teixeira earlier this year, who moved to China, and Shakhtar's attack has been blunted slightly as a result.
Braga overcame a challenge from Fenerbahce in the last round and represent something of an unknown quantity for other sides.