GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - MARCH 28: Head coach Marcelo Bielsa of Bilbao reacts during a press conference ahead of their UEFA Europa League quarterfinal match against FC Schalke 04 on March 28, 2012 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Athletic Bilbao slayed the competition's biggest giant in Manchester United. Their reward is a date with the most in-form striker in the world, Klass-Jan Huntelaar.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar is perhaps the most in-form striker in world football, and he doesn't get nearly the press of fellow Bundesliga star Mario Gomez, Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, or one of the players he's facing on Thursday, Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente. Huntelaar has an incredible 40 goals in 38 games for Schalke this season, and including his play with the Netherlands, he has 43 goals in all 44 professional games that he has played in 2011 and 2012.
Athletic Bilbao are a lot of very impressive things, but they are not a top defensive team. They can deny chances by pressing without possession and keeping the ball, but when they do let their opposition around their penalty area, they're very average. Huntelaar and his counterpart Raul are absolutely lethal finishers, and they won't need too many opportunities to score.
Schalke are also a very average defensive team, meaning that this game could have a lot of goals in it. Schalke are almost certainly going to concede an away goal in this tie. They just need to make sure they score enough of their own goals that they have the advantage heading to San Mames. Bilbao are slumping in La Liga, but as they showed against Manchester United, they have the players to score in bunches against anyone.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, March 29, 3:05 p.m. ET, 9:05 p.m. local
Venue: Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
TV: GolTV (USA), Channel 5 (UK)
We'll have individual previews and live coverage of every match in our UEFA Europa League Quarterfinals StoryStream.