The 2023/24 Europa League quarterfinals conclude on Thursday with interesting games to look forward to. Here’s a game-by-game preview ahead of the return legs.

West Ham United vs Bayer Leverkusen | 21:00 | 18 April

Fresh from the highs of securing their first-ever Bundesliga title in 120 years following a 5-0 romp over Werder Bremen on Sunday,  Bayer Leverkusen will look to preserve their 43-game unbeaten streak when they take on West Ham in the quarterfinals second leg. Despite an uninspiring performance in the first leg, Leverkusen eventually struck twice in the last 10 minutes of normal time, through substitutes Victor Boniface and Jonathan Hoffman to make it 9 games undefeated in the Europa League.

The Hammers continued to falter in their charge for European places as they succumbed to a 2-0 loss against Fulham in the past week. David Moyes’ men have now registered a solitary win in six appearances in all competitions, leaving them two points off the top six. The loss to Fulham extended West Ham’s poor recent return at home, as they are now winless in three straight fixtures heading into this huge tie against Leverkusen.

Leverkusen are firing on all cylinders and are a banker to seal qualification to the semifinals. This game will produce at least two goals or more.

Prediction: Additional Totals Over 3.5 @ 2.60

Marseille vs Benfica | 21:00 | 18 April

Marseille’s resurgence under Jean-Louis Gasset has hit a stumbling block of late. Losing 2-1 to Benfica last week marked their fourth straight defeat across all formats, a steady decline that has now left them 10 points behind the chasing pack in the race for European spots. The French giants are undefeated in five home fixtures in this competition this season, winning by an aggregate of 7-1 when they hosted Villareal and Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16 and round of 32 respectively.

Benfica totally dominated the first leg at Estadio da Luz and should have punished the French side if it wasn’t for their wayward finishing. The Portuguese outfit warmed up with a 3-0 league win over Moreirense on Sunday, making amends for the previous loss to perennial foes Sporting CP. Rafa Silva and Angel Di Maria, chief destroyers in last week’s triumph, were rested on Sunday. With one eye on the return leg, Roger Schmidt took off Joao Gomes and David Neres in the second half.

I expect another open game plan from both sides when they face-off in France.

Prediction: Both Teams To Score (Yes) @1.59

AS Roma vs AC Milan | 21:00 | 18 April

The eagerly anticipated showdown between these two Italian powerhouses failed to live up to its billing in the reverse meeting, with AS Roma dealing the early blow and adopting a cautious approach thereafter. The Giallorosi’s domestic return this weekend was halted under unfortunate circumstances after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed on the pitch and had to be stretchered off. The game tied at 1-1 in the second half was called off. The temporary result means Danielle De Rossi’s men are unbeaten in five matches since they suffered a 1-0 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion in the last 16.

Roma’s defensive approach in the first leg worked out impressively, as they eventually ended Milan’s five-match winning run. Looking to banish the ghosts of last week’s Thursday, the Rossoneri were held to a six-goal stalemate away to relegation-battling Sassuolo on Sunday. The damaging result reduced their mathematical chances of reaching runaway neighbors Internazionale at the top.

Milan’s quality will be the difference here. Back Milan on the Double Chance.

Prediction: Draw/AC Milan @ 1.36

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Atalanta vs Liverpool | 21:00 | 18 April

Two consecutive losses at Anfield have derailed the wheels in Liverpool’s quest for a treble in Jurgen Klopp’s final season. Following the humiliating 3-0 loss to Atalanta in the first leg, the Reds received another home beating from Crystal Palace over the weekend. Liverpool’s hopes of mounting a remarkable comeback in Bergamo are not helped by their recent poor run, as they are now winless in three straight matches across all competitions. Buoyed by the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Allison Becker, and Diogo Jota in Sunday’s defeat, the Reds have a clean bill of health heading into the return leg.

Atalanta’s league encounter against Hellas Verona on Monday showed glimpses of their performance in England last week. They netted twice in 18 minutes before surrendering their lead 15 minutes into the second half, much to the dismay of Gian Gasperini. The Blues lost from a winning position in the 2-1 defeat to Cagliari two weeks ago, a habit that needs to change ahead of facing a Liverpool team blessed with attacking riches.

Liverpool scored a staggering five goals on their last visit to the Gewiss Stadium in 2020. I’m backing them on the Double Chance.

Prediction: Liverpool/Draw @ 1.18

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