CAN Sevilla create history by securing their place in a third successive Europa League final on Thursday night? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) analyses the odds.
Sevilla v Shakhtar Donetsk | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport 2
Sevilla are seeking a third successive Europa League triumph and return to their atmospheric Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan home as odds-on favourites to clinch a place in the final having pinched a late 2-2 draw in Ukraine last week.
The result in Lviv gives Los Rojiblancos a slender away goals advantage as Kevin Gameiro blasted in an equaliser just eight minutes from time. Should Unai Emery’s troops complete their path to the final in Basel, they’ll become the first side since Juventus in 1998 to reach a European final in three years on the spin.
The Andalusians will be buoyed by the fact eight of the previous 10 sides to draw 2-2 on their Europa League knockout travels have progressed. And clubs that picked up a score draw in the away first leg of a Europa League quarter or semi-final since 2007/08 have W5-D4-L0 when returning home for the second leg.
Sevilla’s home loss to Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals is the only time in which the Spaniards have failed to win in front of their adoring fans in 12 (W11-D0-L1) games in this competition, as they’ve recorded seven clean sheets and bagged seven successes by more than a one-goal margin.
However, Emery’s men have managed just W1-D3-L2 across all competitions now and earned a sole triumph in their last four as hosts (W1-D2-L1). Nevertheless, Los Rojiblancos’ long-term trends are strong enough to presume they can keep their bid for a historic third Europa League title in a row alive.
This season, Sevilla have W22-D1-L5 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan as the Andalusians have scored in each of their last 27 at home, as well as two or more in 19 of those encounters. Four of the top-five in La Liga have been downed here and clean sheets kept in 14 of their most recent 20 home outings.
So I’m happy to snub their below-par recent run as Emery and his gang are the masters in two-legged football and have had full focus on this competition for a few weeks now. However, it might not be a walk in the park considering their less than impressive defensive performances.
Sevilla have silenced just one of their last 10 opponents with seven of those matches resulting in winning Both Teams To Score bets. Visitors Shakhtar have struck 15 goals in their seven games since dropping down to the Europa League and I’d fancy the Ukrainians to score.
Shakhtar warmed up for the return leg with an explosive 3-0 win over table-topping domestic rivals Dynamo Kiev at the weekend which saw them finish the game with nine-men. That emphatic result extended the Miners streak of scoring in all bar one of their last 17 matches.
Mircea Lucescu’s men deserve great credit for thriving in their adopted home of Lviv and have come away from Schalke, Anderlecht and Braga with away victories in this competition already, so they’ll be confident of a fourth.
The Ukrainians have W5-D2-L0 on Europa League duty this term and grabbed at least two goals in five of their last six encounters in this competition. On the road in Europe since 2013/14 Shakhtar have W6-D4-L6 – despite the bulk of those fixtures taking part in the Champions League.
The Miners deserve plenty of respect but ultimately I think they may fall just short, especially considering Fred’s suspended, skipper Darijo Srna is a major doubt and star man Alex Teixeira left in the winter. However, I do like the look of the guests getting on the scoresheet in a Sevilla win (21/10 Bet365).
Sevilla have scored Over 1.5 Goals themselves in 12 of their last 15 Europa League matches and all 12 of those games broke the Over 2.5 Goals barrier. I don’t see Los Rojiblancos running away with this one though, and goals should be on the agenda considering the state of the tie.
Sevilla v Shakhtar Donetsk – Sevilla to win and Both Teams To Score (21/10 Bet365)