Rejuvenated Sevillato take on Manchester United
There is just something about Sevilla and this competition, lifting the trophy on six occasions, which is a record, and it would certainly not be a shock to see them go all the way once again this season despite their struggles domestically in 2022-23.
Sevilla will have to win the Europa League if they are to be present in next season’s Champions League, as a disappointing La Liga campaign has left them down in 13th in the table, 16 points off fourth-placed Real Sociedad.
Mendilibar’s team have now picked up seven points from their last three league games, though, including a 2-0 success over Valencia at the weekend, and they will now be looking to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League at Man United’s expense, which would be a huge scalp in this season’s competition.
Man United will still be confident of beating Sevilla on Thursday to progress to the final four, but Erik ten Hag‘s side are picking up injuries at the worst possible stage of the season. Man United will not want to make a habit of competing in the Europa League, but they won the competition in 2017, and they are still the favourites to lift the trophy this term despite last week’s result at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils are still waiting for their first victory over Sevilla, losing two and drawing two of their previous four meetings, including a defeat in the semi-finals of the Europa League in August 2020. Sevilla’s recent form has been impressive, but expectMan United to navigate their way into the final four of the competition
Beaten by Federico Gatti‘s second-half strike in Turin, Sporting are without a win from their last four home games in Europe. Meanwhile, Juve may have suffered successive Serie A defeats but have won each of their last four in continental competition – all without conceding a goal.
Winless in three previous meetings with Juventus in UEFA competition, Sporting Lisbon have also been eliminated from each of their last five European knockout ties when they have lost the first leg, so history is certainly not on their side ahead of this week’s second leg.
Not only that, but since beating Tottenham in Lisbon last September they have failed to win any of their home fixtures in Europe. Sporting will certainly need to halt that run on Thursday,
Juventus may have lost their last two away matches against Portuguese opponents – versus Porto in the 2020-21 campaign and Benfica earlier this season – but avoiding defeat this week would see them through to yet another major semi-final.
With the accumulated know-how of Allegri and his expensively-assembled cast of underachievers, Juventus can frustrate a Sporting side which has not replicated last term’s title-winning form and are a little more vulnerable these days.
As a draw would take them through to the final four, Juve will happily play the part of spoilers and focus their efforts on striking on the break – or via a set-piece situation.
After a close-fought contest in Rotterdam last week, Roma and Feyenoord reconvene on Thursday evening, when they conclude their Europa League quarter-final tie at Stadio Olimpico. Jose Mourinho‘s Roma won a third straight Serie A game without conceding at the weekend and can be tough customers on home soil.
Almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Roma in last Thursday’s first leg, as not only did captain Lorenzo Pellegrini miss a first-half penalty, before Mats Wieffer drove home a powerful winner for Feyenoord, but forward duo Paulo Dybala and Tammy Abraham were both forced off with injuries.
Nonetheless, the Eternal City side enjoyed a successful return to Serie A duty on Sunday, when Pellegrini redeemed himself by scoring the second goal in a 3-0 win over Udinese.
Though it has not always been a joy to watch, Mourinho’s pragmatic approach has certainly helped the Giallorossi graft their way to within touching distance of a long-awaited Champions League return.
UEFA Cup runners-up in 1991, Roma are yet to win either the Europa League or its predecessor and are now making only their second appearance in the current competition’s quarter-finals, but last year’s Conference League triumph has surely whetted their appetite to go further.
Roma will fancy their chances of cancelling out their deficit at a sold-out Stadio Olimpico, but overall victory could ultimately prove beyond them.