sevilla_fc_71618Fiorentina

SEVILLA

v

FIORENTINA

RamA?n SA?nchez PizjuA?n Stadium, Seville
Thursday 7th May, 2015, 19:05 GMT

***

Sevilla, the current holders of the Europa League trophy, have been paired with Fiorentina in the semi finals and the Spanish side have home advantage in Thursday nighta s first leg. Sevilla have been really impressive in the knockout rounds of this competition although they needed a late goal away at Zenit to draw 2-2 on the night and squeeze through 4-3 on aggregate. In earlier knockout rounds they beat Borussia Monchengladbach 1-0 at home and 3-2 in the return in Germany and in the Round of 16 clash with Villarreal, Sevilla won 3-1 away from home and 2-1 in front of their own supporters. They made a habit of winning their home legs on their way to lifting this trophy last season and they are also going well domestically. Sevilla went down 3-2 at home to Real Madrid in a La Liga fixture at the weekend but they are still in the mix in the race to qualify for the Champions League next season. They are currently in fifth spot, three points shy of fourth placed Valencia who occupy the last of the UCL qualification spots but there are three rounds of matches remaining and Valencia still have to visit Real Madrid. Sevillaa s La Liga home record this season comprises of 12 wins, five draws and Reala s win here at the weekend is their only home defeat.

Fiorentina came through their quarter final with a 3-1 aggregate win over Dynamo Kyiv. A precious late away goal for the Italians in Ukraine saw the first leg finish at 1-1 and they comleted the job with a 2-0 home win in the return. Fiorentina have already seen off two other fancied sides in the knockout rounds. In the Round of 32 they drew 1-1 at Spurs before winning the return 2-0 on home soil and in the last 16 they drew 1-1 at home to Roma before winning the return 3-0 away from home. Domestically Fiorentina had suffered a dip in form with four straight defeats but they ended that sequence with a 3-1 home win over Cesena at the weekend. They are in fifth spot in the Serie A standings which would be good enough to qualify for this competition again next season although a host of clubs are on their tail with four rounds of matches still to play.

Team news and tactical brief

Sevilla

Until Saturday evening, the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan had been something of a fortress for Sevilla, who had not tasted defeat in front of their own supporters since March 2014. However, a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Real Madrid ended that 35-game run at the weekend, leaving Unai Emery’s men with an uphill struggle to qualify for next season’s Champions League via La Liga. Yet the Europa League provides Sevilla with a second chance, with this year’s winner guaranteed a spot in European football’s premier club competition for the 2015-16 campaign. Their home form in Europe is good, with eight straight wins to their name, including six during this term’s Europa League.

They can also take solace from the fact that they have never lost a European semi-final tie, having advanced through on the three occasions that they have reached the last four. History may also be on the minds of the Sevilla players heading into this encounter because if they are successful in defending the trophy that they won in Turin 12 months ago, they will have won the tournament for a fourth time – a competition record. They will have to overcome Italian opposition for the first time, though, following two losses and a draw from their previous meetings against clubs from the Southern European nation. Emery made five changes to his team for the Madrid game, but many of those could keep their places for this game. That would mean a start for former Arsenal attacker Jose Antonio Reyes, who could partner Colombian frontman Carlos Bacca. Vitolo should be back in the Sevilla team he was rested for the defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday. They may have lost but will take heart from the way they came back into that match and will be confident of a positive result here.With no injured or suspended players, Unai Emery has his whole squad to choose from.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1):Rico; Tremoulinas, Carrico, Kolodziejczak, Coke; Mbia, Krychowiak; Banega, Vidal, Vitolo; Bacca

Sevilla Fiorentina

Fiorentina

While Sevilla’s recent home form is undeniably impressive, Fiorentina have proved themselves a force to be reckoned with away from home in Europe over recent seasons. La Viola are unbeaten from their last 12 trips, meaning that they have not lost since a Champions League clash against Bayern Munich in 2010. During that time, they have collected eight wins and four draws. In fact, their Europa League performances throughout the entire campaign have been impressive, seeing off Tottenham Hotspur, Roma and Dynamo Kiev in the knockout rounds to reach this stage of the tournament.

Of their six European semi-finals to date, Fiorentina have won four of them, although they did lose the most recent at the hands of Rangers in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup.They reached the final for the one and only time back in 1990, where they were defeated by compatriots Juventus 3-1 on aggregate. Having been taken off early during the weekend’s win over Cesena, Chelsea loanee Mohamed Salah will be back to lead the Fiorentina attack.The Egyptian, who never settled during his time in London, has scored seven goals in 19 outings following his January arrival. He is expected to be joined up front by German striker Mario Gomez, while former Manchester City player Stefan Savic should feature in the centre of defence. Spanish winger Joaquin, who played under Emery’s management during the pair’s time together at Valencia, should also start from the beginning.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3):Neto(Gk); Alonso, Savic, Basanta, Tomovic; Pizarro, Fernandez, Valero; Joaquin, Gomez, Salah

Key Facts

  • Sevilla’s record against Italian clubs is W0 D1 L3.
  • Fiorentina’s record against Spanish clubs is: W2 D4 L6.
  • Sevilla have won their last eight European home games a including all six this season.
  • Fiorentina are unbeaten in their last 12 European away games.
  • Sevilla have never been eliminated in a European semi-final, winning all three of their previous last-four ties.
  • Fiorentina have won four of their six European semi-finals, but lost the most recent one on penalties following 210 goalless minutes against Rangers FC in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup.

Players to Watch Out For

Carlos Bacca (Sevilla)

Snapped up from Club Brugge KV in summer 2013, striker Carlos Bacca is a relentless pursuer of even the smallest sniff of a chance, the 28-year-old constantly harrying the opposition back line. With 20 Liga goals and four in the UEFA Europa League this season, the Colombian international appears in top shape.

Mario Gomez (Fiorentina)

The Viola must improve their finishing drastically yet Mario Gomez could be the answer. If the German scored a fortunate goal against Dynamo, it was maybe the boost that the one-time FC Bayern MA?nchen predator needed.

Prediction

Sevilla 2a 1 Fiorentina

Sevilla host Fiorentina in this Europa League semi final first leg, with the hosts arguably in the better shape going into the season’s final straight. The Spanish outfit lost 3-2 to Real Madrid at the weekend but played extremely well and came close to nicking a point despite going 2-0 and then 3-1 down. That was their first defeat in 16 games in all competitions, and their first on home soil in 36 matches. They should have enough to overcome a Fiorentina team who have wobbled of late, losing 5 of their last 8 matches. The visitors’ main hope may simply be to give themselves a fighting chance of overturning any loss here in next week’s second leg.

Blast From the Past

The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.