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Ranking the eight remaining teams in Europa League: Liverpool and Milan ahead of Leverkusen

The UEFA Europa League quarterfinals are now set after another enthralling set of games across both legs of the round of 16. Many of the big guns remain in contention but the likes of Brighton and Hove Albion and Villarreal CF have now dropped out. Regardless, it is time to take a look at the remaining field and assess who stands the best chance of going all the way with three Serie A teams present in the final eight as we work our way towards Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

We rank the remaining sides as to who is most likely to be celebrating silverware at the end of the season.

No. 8 Olympique de Marseille (France)

Although they did their best to throw away a comfortable first-leg lead against Villarreal, OM made it to the quarterfinals and now must be considered rank outsiders given their relative lack of recent European experience even if they are France’s only Champions League winners.

  • UEFA ranking: 46th
  • Group: Runners-up Group B
  • Round of 16: Beat Villarreal CF 5-3 on aggregate
  • Last year: Eliminated in Champions League group stage
  • Best result: 1992-93 Champions League winner and three-time Europa League runners-up

No. 7 Atalanta BC (Italy)

Back in Europe after one year away, the Italians will back themselves as tricky opponents for any remaining side to come up against given some of their more recent forays in Europe when they were in the Champions League.

  • UEFA ranking: 22nd
  • Group: Winners Group D
  • Round of 16: Beat Sporting CP 3-2 on aggregate
  • Last year: Did not qualify
  • Best result: 2019-20 Champions League quarterfinalists and 2021-22 Europa League quarterfinalist

No. 6 SL Benfica (Portugal)

Champions League quarterfinalists just last season, the Portuguese giants are not in the best shape but they are back in the last eight again and perhaps in with a more realistic shot of success than they ever were at the top level of continental soccer last year.

  • UEFA ranking: 20th.
  • Group: Dropped down from Champions League and beat Toulouse in knockout round playoffs
  • Round of 16: Beat Rangers 3-2 on aggregate
  • Last year: Champions League quarterfinals
  • Best result: Two-time Champions League/European Cup winners

No. 5 West Ham United (England)

Another team with continental know-how are the Hmmers who won the Europa Conference League and will now be hoping to go one better to earn an unlikely Champions League berth with overall success in Europe’s second-tier competition ahead of the reforms.

  • UEFA ranking: 24th
  • Group: Winners Group A
  • Round of 16: Beat group opponents SC Freiburg 5-1 on aggregate
  • Last year: Europa Conference League winners
  • Best result: 2022-23 Europa Conference League winners

No. 4 AS Roma (Italy)

Fancying their chances could be last year’s beaten finalists who now have Daniele De Rossi as head coach and have just sent Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton packing — the Giallarossi certainly know what it takes to get to a European final with a recent Europa Conference League title.

  • UEFA ranking: 9th
  • Group: Runners-up Group G
  • Round of 16: Beat Brighton and Hove Albion 4-1 on aggregate
  • Last year: Beaten Europa League finalists
  • Best result: 2021-22 Europa Conference League winners, 1983-84 Champions League runners-up, 1990-91 and 2022-23 Europa League runners-up

No. 3 Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)

The runaway Bundesliga leaders have not made life easy for themselves in this competition and are therefore not hot favorites but Xabi Alonso’s side coming up against favorites Liverpool would be narrative-rich and arguably the final most neutrals will want despite the history attached to Milan. This was the fifth game-winning goal which has come in the 90th minute or later across all competitions this season and four of those five have come in 2024.

  • UEFA ranking: 18th
  • Group: Winners Group H
  • Round of 16: Beat Qarabag 5-4 on aggregate
  • Last year: Eliminated in Europa League semifinals
  • Best result: 2001-02 Champions League runners-up

No. 2 Milan (Italy)

USMNT star Christian Pulisic and his Rossoneri teammates will be eyeing potential European success given their relative strength in this remaining field and their run to last year’s Champions League semifinals which should stand them in good stead.

  • UEFA ranking: 29th
  • Group: Dropped down from Champions League and beat Stade Rennais in knockout round playoffs
  • Round of 16: Beat Slavia Praha 7-3 on aggregate
  • Last year: Eliminated in Champions League semifinals
  • Best result: Seven-time Champions League winners

No. 1 Liverpool (England)

By far and away the favorites, Jurgen Klopp’s men are leading the way having already picked up the EFL Cup and owing to their strong Premier League form which could see them sending their German tactician off with a glut of trophies when he leaves Anfield this summer.

  • UEFA ranking: 5th
  • Group: Winners Group E
  • Round of 16: Beat Sparta Praha 11-2 on aggregate
  • Last year: Champions League round of 16
  • Best result: Six-time Champions League and three-time Europa League winners

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