UEFA Europa League Football Live

Preview: Schalke v Athletic Bilbao

Schalke boast the UEFA Europa League's top scorer in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as they take on Athletic Bilbao.

Schalke

 

Schalke will hope their last quarter-final meeting with a Spanish side augurs well as they meet Athletic Club, fresh from a UEFA Europa League success against Manchester United. The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition.

Schalke have played Spanish opponents in a previous quarter-final in this competition, beating Valencia 3-1 on aggregate en route to winning the 1996/97 UEFA Cup. Athletic's six meetings with German sides have ended with only one win and one draw.

Schalke are unbeaten at home in Europe this season, recording five wins and a 0-0 draw against AEK Larnaca. In that match, on 3 November 2011, they kept their only clean sheet at home in eight European outings. Athletic have won three of their five away games in Europe this season, and while they lost the other two, they have scored at least once in all of their UEFA games on the road in 2011/12.

UEFA Champions League semi-finalists last season, Schalke last played in the quarter-finals in this competition in 2005/06, beating Levski Sofia en route to losing to eventual winners Sevilla in the semi-finals. Athletic defender Aitor Ocio played for Sevilla in that tie.

The Bilbao side have reached the quarter-finals for the first time since the 1976/77 season, when they went on to lose to Juventus on away goals in the two-legged final.

Having scored hat-tricks in the last two rounds, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is this season's top scorer in the UEFA Europa League with nine goals. Of the strikers left in the competition, Falcao is his nearest rival with six goals. The Colombian set a competition record last season, scoring 17 goals as he won the trophy with Porto.

The Spanish side have conceded more goals since the start of the group stage than any other side left in the competition: 13. Athletic are at their most dangerous between the 61st and 75th minutes, when they have scored six of their 18 goals since the start of the group stage.

The winners will take on Sporting Clube de Portugal Metalist Kharkiv in the semi-finals, playing the second leg at home. Whoever prevails in that tie will be the nominal away side in the final in Bucharest's National Arena on 9 May.