Europa League draw: Manchester United face Anderlecht, Lyon take on Turkish giants Besiktas
Manchester United will face Belgian club Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals after Friday's draw in Nyon, which saw France's Lyon land Turkish champions Besiktas.
Nyon: Manchester United will face Belgian club Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals after Friday's draw in Nyon, which saw France's Lyon land Turkish champions Besiktas.
Jose Mourinho's side are the only English club left in the competition after labouring to a 2-1 aggregate win over Russian side FC Rostov in the last 16.
United are favourites to win the competition for the first time in Solna, Sweden on May 24 which could earn them a passage into next season's Champions League, a fact not lost on Juan Mata, who scored United's winner against Rostov.
"I still think we have the chance to get to the Champions League through the Premier League. I still think we can win a lot of games and get into the third or fourth positions," he said.
"But we will take it very seriously. It's very important - it could be one more trophy and it means we play Champions League."
Anderlecht president Roger Vanden Stock said the United tie was "the hardest possible draw for us" but believes his side can pull off an upset.
"You never know, we didn't think we would beat Zenit either," he said referring to the away goals win over the Russians.
"It's a team at Champions League level with a lot of qualities. If we were to qualify, I would light a few candles."
Anderlecht coach Herman van Holsbeeck was also looking on the bright side of a tough draw.
"It is, of course, a very nice fixture. A unique opportunity for our players to take on such a team and show themselves in Europe."
It will be the fourth meeting between the sides, with United winning the three previous ones.
Their record European victory was against Anderlecht, a 10-0 rout at Old Trafford in the European Cup preliminary round in 1956.
Anderlecht are currently top the Belgian league ahead of the play-offs.
Spanish sides have won seven of the last eleven second-tier European titles and hopes of further domination rest on Celta Vigo's shoulders as they take on Belgian club Genk.
Two former winners were pitched together as Dutch giants and 1992 champions Ajax face Germany's Schalke 04, who won in 1999, in home and away ties to be played on April 13 and 20.
Schalke's Dutch striker Klass-Jan Huntelaar, formerly of PSV Eindhoven, tweeted "Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Amsterdam," to show his delight at landing his former rivals.
Lyon are seen as second favourites behind United to lift the trophy after overcoming AS Roma and were upbeat despite a tough draw.
"They're a great team and there'll be an amazing atmosphere," said Lyon advisor Bernard Lacombe.
Besiktas director Ali Naibi warned: "Playing the second leg in front of our own crowd will help. Lyon have experienced and talented players, so it'll be difficult."
Anderlecht (BEL) v Manchester United (ENG)
Celta Vigo (ESP) v Genk (BEL)
Ajax (NED) v Schalke (GER)
Lyon (FRA) v Besiktas (TUR)
Ties to be played on 13 and 20 April
Semi-finals: May 4 and 11
Final: May 24 at Solna, Sweden
Ronaldo's return added to a squad already packed with star quality that Solskjaer believes is now ready to compete with the best in Europe.
A club that remains the fourth-richest in the world according to Deloitte's most recent Football Money League continues to live on past glories that won them three European Cups.
Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock for Chelsea after 69 minutes at Stamford Bridge to earn the holders a 1-0 victory over Zenit, whose Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg is the venue for next May's final.