Two favourites of the UEFA Europa League go head-to-head in the MSV-Arena as Wolverhampton Wanderers get ready to take on Sevilla.
The UEFA Europa League is well into its Quarter Final stage as two favourites of the 2019/20 campaign get ready to lock horns in Duisburg, Germany at the MSV-Arena.
Wolverhampton Wanderers were grouped with Sporting Braga, Slovan Bratislava and Besiktas in Group K of the competition but managed to go through the group as runners up amidst a hectic fixture list juggling two other competitions. They dropped points only twice in the process, a 1-0 loss and a 3-3 draw against Sporting Braga.
Post that, Wolves managed to beat Espanyol 6-3 on aggregate in the Round of 32, and then Olympiacos with a 2-1 scoreline in the Round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals, where they face Sevilla.
Sevilla have managed to undergo a resurgence season under Julen Lopetegui who has implemented his trademark possession-based, fluid style of football. They were faced with a relatively more comfortable group in the Europa League, with APOEL Nicosia, Qarabag, and F91 Dudelange. They only sustained the one loss in the group – 1-0 against APOEL.
Their tie in the Round of 32 was comparatively uneventful, though. Sevilla were faced with CFR Cluj, whom they were able to overcome despite a 1-1 aggregate scoreline, courtesy of an away goal from Youssef En-Nesyri. However, in the next round, they outclassed AS Roma with ease, handing them a 2-0 defeat in a single-legged tie in Germany.
Tactics & Team News
Wolverhampton Wanderers have a significant blow to deal with as Jonny Castro has been ruled out for the rest of the year with an ACL injury. They will also be without Daniel Podence, who has been in tremendous form since Project Restart, but was booked against Olympiacos and therefore is suspended.
Nuno Espirito Santo is expected to continue a 3-4-3 with Rui Patricio featuring in goal. Ahead of him, Conor Coady will keep his spot as the one outfield constant for Wolves in the heart of the defence. He will be marshaling the back three, with Willy Boly on his right and Romain Saiss on the left.
Ahead of them, Ruben Neves and Leander Dendonker are expected to assume responsibility as the double pivot that will screen the defence. Matt Doherty and Ruben Vinagre will be flanking the central midfield duo.
No surprises in the frontline – Raul Jimenez will start as the striker in a three-man attack and will be aided by a continent-favourite in Adama Traore on the right. In the absence of Daniel Podence, Diogo Jota is expected to take up the left flank.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Vinagre; Traore, Jimenez, Jota
There are no injuries that concern Julen Lopetegui ahead of this vital fixture. In fact, Tomas Vaclik has returned from injury, which puts forth an intriguing proposition for the Spanish boss.
Youssef En-Nesyri will start as the sole striker in attack, looking to add to his ten goals in all competitions this season. He will be arched by Munir El Haddadi on the left and Lucas Ocampos on the right. This front-three has scored 26 goals amongst them this season.
A midfield of three will be deployed in the centre of the park, with Fernando taking rank as the screening midfielder. He is expected to be accompanied by Joan Jordan and Ever Banega. These two will be crucial in opening up Wolves’ defence through long balls – a skillset both of them are well equipped with.
Captain Jesus Navas and Sergio Reguilon will provide the width from the back. The latter was arguably the best player on the pitch against Roma, scoring an incredible solo goal and then keeping a clean sheet as well.
Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos will retain their positions in the heart of the defence. We expect Lopetegui to continue with Bono as his goalkeeper despite the return of Vaclik. The Moroccan has kept eight clean sheets in his last ten games, including five in the Europa League this season – joint second-highest.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bono; Navas, Kounde, Carlos, Reguilon; Jordan, Fernando, Banega; Ocampos, En-Neysri, Munir
- This is the first official game between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sevilla.
- Sevilla are the record holders of the Europa League with 5 wins.
- A place in the semis would be Wolves’ first in the Europa League since 1972.
- Wolves have lost three times out of their last four visits to Germany.
- Sevilla have gone on to lift the Europa League trophy each of the last three times they have managed to get past the quarter finals: 2013/14, 2014/15, and 2015/16
Player to Watch
Munir El Haddadi
Ex-Barcelona sensation Munir El Haddadi has been one of the best players in the Europa League this season, scoring five goals and setting up one for Javier Hernandez. His incredible tally includes a hat-trick against F91 Dudelange in a game that finished 5-2 in favour of Sevilla, during the fourth round of Europa League group stage fixtures.
The Spanish international has maintained his excellent form throughout the season and has become an essential player under Julen Lopetegui. He has also carried his form post-lockdown, scoring three goals and assisting once as the Spanish outfit reserved their berth in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Sevilla A.E.T (Sevilla win on penalties)
The Europa League quarter-final three on Tuesday could turn out to be one of the best games of the competition so far as Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sevilla collide for the first time in their respective histories. Both the teams are favourites to win the cup alongside Inter Milan and Manchester United.
Both these teams have the stamina and depth to take it till the very last drop of blood and sweat, and we expect it to be a close, intense encounter which will, in all probability end in a draw despite extra time.
However, Sevilla made it clear that their legacy in the Europa League and the experience of players like Ever Banega, Suso, Fernando, and Luuk de Jong at the highest level is the key that unlocks the gate for the semi-finals. Wolves, while exceptional, could fall short against the might of the European giants.