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UEFA Europa League: Sevilla vs Man United Preview

Sevilla vs Man United Preview

English giants Manchester United will meet five-time Europa League winners Sevilla in the semi-finals on Sunday, as both sides strive to reach the competition’s showpiece final.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports 

The heat and humidity of Germany’s summer months was a telling factor during the quarter-finals as Sevilla edged Wolves 1-0 thanks to Lucas Ocampos’ 88th minute leaping header and Man United progressed with a Bruno Fernandes penalty in added extra time, following Copenhagen goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson making 13 saves in 90 minutes.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Europa League Semi-Final | Sunday 16 August  | RheinEnergieStadion | 21:00

To Win (90 mins)
Sevilla 19/10
Draw 21/10
Man United 29/20

Sevilla come into their fifth Europa League semi-final clash unbeaten in 19 matches (10 wins and nine draws) and have kept five clean sheets on the bounce. United encountered a few hiccups towards the latter stages of the Premier League, most notably in draws against Southampton and West Ham.

The Red Devils were knocked out of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup at the semi-final stage by Chelsea and Manchester City and will be hoping it’s third time lucky at the RheinEnergieStadion.

The key to Julen Lopetegui’s team’s success is their personnel, along the back line with the pace of Jesus Navas at right-back and Real Madrid loanee Sergio Reguilon impressing at left-back, which has attracted interest from top clubs like Chelsea and Napoli, and made Sergio Escudero play second fiddle since arriving.

The central-defensive pairing of Brazilian Diego Carlos and 21-year-old Frenchman Jules Kounde have awakened many clubs scouting networks with both players on the transfer target lists for clubs seeking to shore up their defences.

The heart of the team is undoubtedly Ever Banega who brings a sense of calm and composure at the perfect timing and being a typical South American is never afraid to get stuck into the game and make impactful and important tackles to break up the play alongside former Manchester City midfielder Fernando and Spaniard Joan Jordan.

Former Liverpool midfielder Suso played as an inverted winger against Wolves and reminded me of the role Isco plays for Real Madrid, always trying to run into space and picking out passes between the lines of the opposition’s midfield and defence.

The two biggest weapons in Sevilla’s arsenal are Youssef En-Nesyri and Ocampos, they’re attacks are very direct and their approach is fearless as they show no respect to the opponent, exactly what is needed to take Los Palanganas through to the final.

Jockeys Ride Horses

Manchester United
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was knocked out of the Europa League by Sevilla four seasons ago while managing Molde. Despite winning 1-0 in Norway, the first-leg’s 3-0 deficit was too much to overcome and the Red Devils’ boss exclaimed that he is out to avenge that defeat.

More recently Jose Mourinho was outsmarted over a two-legged tie against Sevilla in the Champions League after a quickfire double by Wissam Ben Yedder, who came off the bench to silence the Old Trafford crowd, and the defeat led to Mourinho’s infamous “football heritage” press conference a week later.

Sergio Romero is expected to retain his place in goal ahead of David De Gea, who is enduring a poor run of form. In defence, Luke Shaw is unavailable with Brandon Williams expected to start alongside Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire.

Victor Lindelof has improved during the course of the season, but his clear weakness in set-piece situations and inability to be aggressive and head the ball out of the danger area might see Eric Bailly start once again, although Lindelof is more composed in possession.

Nemanja Matic needs to return to the starting line-up to provide the neat and tidy passes that start off attacks from deep-lying midfield areas. Fernandes and Paul Pogba will have all the weight of expectation on their shoulders to orchestrate the three young forwards ahead of them.

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have to prove their worth when the pressure is on or Solskjaer will have to reconsider adding more firepower to his squad for the upcoming season, with Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho reportedly on the club’s radar.

Odion Ighalo has only played the full 90 minutes twice against Norwich and LASK. The Nigerian striker’s other nine appearances have all been as a substitute. A life-long United fan, Ighalo’s dreams might come true if he manages to come on and score, or it could end in tears if Solskjaer fails to think on his feet and use the options his bench has to offer.

The decision to bring on Juan Mata against Copenhagen worked in United’s favour. The Spaniard has experienced 27 matches in the knockout stages of European competitions and despite being 32 years of age, still has the ability to unlock defences, unlike the youngsters in the preferred starting eleven.

Verdict: Half-Time/Full-Time – Draw/Man United (9/2)
Sevilla have won all three penalty shootouts in Europe against the likes of Real Betis, Benfica and Athletic Bilbao in the past, but I don’t see this clash going that route. Go into the Half-Time/Full-Time market and select Draw/Man United at 9/2 odds.

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