Sevilla vs Manchester United | Sunday 16th August 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
A place in the Europa League final is up for grabs when two former winners of this competition clash in Cologne.
Sevilla have lifted this trophy five times, in its various guises since 2006, while Man Utd were crowned champions in 2017, and between them, they’ve shared four of the last six renewals.
Both sides progressed from their quarter-finals with 1-0 wins. The Red Devils quite literally stumbled over the line with a Bruno Fernandes penalty in extra-time ending FC Copenhagen’s hopes, despite some inspired goalkeeping from Karl-Johan Johnsson.
The Andalusian club saw off Wolves after Lucas Ocampos’ late header broke the deadlock. That came after Raúl Jiménez missed a first-half penalty, but in truth, Sevilla dominated the game with 75% possession, 18 shots with five of those on target, and 14 corners.
Intriguing tactical battle
Towards the end of the Premier League, we saw how devastating Man Utd could be on the counter-attack. And, they may have to resort to quick turnovers and breaks to get the better of this Sevilla side.
Julen Lopetegui likes his players to get the ball down and play. That worked well against Wolves with them cutting out plenty of chances, recording an Expected Goals tally of 1.61xG.
The way they moved the ball forced the Old Gold to sit in a more rigid back-five with Matt Doherty and Ruben Vinagre playing much deeper than they’re used to in a league game.
Sevilla won’t change their game plan – it’ll be possession-based – so it could force Ole Gunnar Solskjær to do something different with his line-up.
The Red Devils will need their players to roll their sleeves up and dig-in. It has looked like the season was catching up with them during that game against Copenhagen with how tired they looked.
Scott McTominay or Nemanja Matic could well return to the side to offer a fresher pair of legs and some much-needed work rate. If Solskjær doesn’t freshen up his side, then his side are likely to pay the ultimate price.
I can’t see the Norwegian coach switching away from a 4-2-3-1 here. But another issue might be the lack of protection offered to their full-backs from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood. Both Jesús Navas and Sergio Reguilón like to get forward and create overloads, and that’s an area they could exploit.
Reguilón to take aim
Initially, I was looking towards the Sevilla passing lines, but these have already shortened. It’s now 10/11 for Jules Koundé making 55+ passes. It’s not the odds-against price it was, but from the stats, it still looks strong.
The rising star made 74 of 80 in the quarter-final against Wolves, and he’s hit that magical 55 target in six of his seven Europa League matches, so with possession likely to go the way of the Spanish club, he should hit that figure once more.
Since some of the prices have gone, I’ll dip my toe into the shots market. Many will look towards Koundé with his aerial threat from set-pieces being highlighted in the games against Roma and Wolves.
But, I’m looking at left-back Sergio Reguilón, who likes to get forward. The 23-year-old has had 33 shots in 35 matches across La Liga and the Europa League.
He’s had five shots in his last three games and has found the net in two of his last three. His effort against Wolves was high and wide, but he just needs an attempt to get the evens up, available with Pokerstars.
He’ll keep Aaron Wan-Bissaka busy when he’s got the ball at his feet, and showed against Roma that he can dart into space with his close control and find the net. Reguilón is an interesting cog in the way Sevilla play and his attacking ability may go under the radar.
While eyeing up the Reguilón bet, I did check the Wan-Bissaka tackle prices but most are setting the bar at four, which is high enough to put me off. He did make that many against Copenhagen. And, he made five on the final day of the Premier League season at Leicester.
Sevilla to secure final berth
The other bet I’m willing to take is on Sevilla to qualify. The La Liga season finished a week earlier than the Premier League, and those extra seven days of rest could play a big part.
Sevilla looked very fresh against Roma and were totally dominant in the quarter-final. While Man United were on top against Copenhagen, they looked a little off the pace, and that’s something the Spanish club could pounce on.
Los Nervionenses have only been eliminated in one of their last 20 knockout ties in this competition, and each time they’ve made it to this stage, they’ve gone on to lift the trophy.
We know the flair in this Red Devils side but this Sevilla defence will also prove tough to breakdown – they’ve kept seven clean sheets in their last eight, which is mightily impressive.
In every Europa League game this season, Sevilla have won the ‘xG battle’ and are averaging 2.12xGF and just 0.74xGA, which highlights they’re a big threat in attack and stingy at the back.
Lopetegui’s men should be full of confidence – they’re unbeaten in their last 19 and playing some high-quality football. Part of me wants to take the Spaniards to win in normal time at 21/10. That looks a little too big, but I’m still happy to remove some of the risk and take the 21/20 on them to qualify.
Sevilla vs Manchester United – Sevilla to qualify (21/20 Betfair)
Sevilla vs Manchester United – Sergio Reguilón 1+ shot (1/1 Pokerstars)