By Can Erozden
ANKARA (AA) – The UEFA Europa League quarterfinals will begin with the first leg matches on Thursday as the Ajax-Roma showdown has been regarded one of the highly anticipated pairings in the competition.
Both Ajax and Roma are locked on Thursday's match at the Dutch team Ajax's home, Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam.
Roma manager Paulo Fonseca said the Italian team is in a good mood and feels "confident" but they should keep their concentration in high levels in the entire match to return with a good result.
"We need to play a perfect game, in all aspects. We need to stay focused. Ajax are a very good side," Fonseca said.
Meanwhile, Ajax manager said Roma prefer "very attractive play" but Ajax should be prepared for other scenarios. He added that the Italian teams in general can play more defensively to secure narrow wins.
"I expect a very attractive game on Thursday, but of course you never know with Italian sides. Atalanta also played more defensively. We have to be prepared for that too," Erik ten Hag said ahead of the match.
This season Ajax were into the Europa League's knockout stage after finishing the UEFA Champions League Group D in the third position.
Ten Hag used the "defensive play" term to refer to their 1-0 loss against Italy's Atalanta in a Group D match in Amsterdam last December.
Colombian forward Luis Muriel scored the winning goal in the minute 85 against 10-man Ajax, who dictated the tempo of the match with a 63% ball possession.
Following the narrow victory in the match six, Atalanta qualified for the Champions League last 16 phase and sent Ajax to the Europa League Round of 32.
Ajax respectively eliminated France's Lille and Swiss club Young Boys to reach Europa League quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Roma beat Portugal's Braga and Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk in the previous rounds to be in the Europa League last eight.
Thursday's fixtures in Europa League are as follows:
The second legs will be played on April 15.
The 2021 Europa League Final will be at Gdansk Stadium in Poland's Gdansk.
– Quarterfinals 1st leg
Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) – Villarreal (Spain)
Ajax (Netherlands) – Roma (Italy)
Arsenal (England) – Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)
Granada (Spain) – Manchester United (England)