Three Spanish sides in Europa League action

March 28th, 2012 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, March 28 (IANS) Three Spanish clubs are in Europa League football action Thursday as they aim to take a big step towards the semifinal of the competition.

Atletico Madrid are the only side to kick-off their quarterfinal tie at home as Diego Simeone’s side entertain German club Hannover.

The main worry for Atletico is that the general strike programmed for Thursday in Spain will make it difficult for fans to travel to the Vicente Calderon Stadium to see the match, Xinhua reported.

Should Atletico progress to the semifinal, the 2009 Europa League winners will play the side that progresses from the tie between AZ Alkmaar and Valencia.

Valencia travel to Holland on the back of two defeats in the Spanish Primera Liga and with questions over the future of coach Unai Emery.

Emery himself admits that there is a dilemma over whether his side should place their efforts in winning a major European trophy or finishing third in the Primera Liga and assuring qualification for the Champions League next year.

Meanwhile, Athletic Club Bilbao appear to have given up on their league ambitions as tiredness has taken its toll on key players. The conquerors of Manchester United face a tough tie against German side Schalke 04, whose star player is former Real Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez.

Athletic are taking over 1,000 fans to Germany and will look to keep the tie alive in order to seal qualification in front of their passionate home fans next week.

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