A semifinal berth is up for grabs on Sunday night when Manchester United try Sevilla for size in Köln, in what is poised to be a very tight Europa affair at the RheinEnergieStadion.
Europa League 2019/2020
Date: Sunday August, 16
Manchester United laboured through to this stage after pipping Copenhagen in extra time last time, thanks to a precise penalty dispatched by Bruno Fernandes as the Red Devils continue their bid to win Europe’s secondary competition since the 2016-2017 triumph.
The 1-0 win at this ground came under fortuitous circumstance, as their Danish counterparts already had their tails up, having taken the game to their opposition through the course of normal regulation time.
However, it could have been a walk in the park for the Premier League giants but for Karl-Johan Johnsson’s saves between the sticks for Copenhagen, with United directing at least 13 shots on target in the game.
Sevilla on their part, turned a near-loss into yet a narrow 1-0 victory over Wolves, having survived a penalty scare in Duisburg to sucker-punch their English rivals late on.
Raul Jimenez had fluffed his lines from 12 yards for Wolves and when Ever Banega floated in an inviting cross in the opposition box two minutes from time, Lucas Ocampos was left with the simplest of headers to direct a winner home and spark scenes of wild celebration from the sidelines.
The La Liga side have now remarkably gone 19 games in all competitions without defeat, last losing to Celta Vigo in February and have not conceded in any of their last five!
These two sides have won between them four of the last six editions of this competition, with Sevilla triumphing thrice in that period. That said, this will mark the first meeting between them since Sevilla knocked United out of the round of 16 stage in the 2017/18 Champions League.
Julen Lopetegui is most likely to go with the same starting XI that secured the slim victory last time.
Tomas Vaclik was back on the bench last time out but Yassine Bounou could be rewarded with another start in goal here after saving that penalty against Wolves.
Nemanja Gudelj is ruled out of this one with injury.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will have the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from as well, and might name an unchanged line up from the Copenhagen victory.
Head to Head
Sevilla triumphed 2-1 over United the last time these two teams met in an European competition, with their other clash prior to that ending in a goalless stalemate.
Sevilla last five competitive games: WDWWW
Manchester United’s last five competitive games: LDWWD
At this stage, picks could be a tough one to call, particularly if you are siding a specific side. These two are undoubtedly European heavyweights, and both boast a plethora of talented players and either of them can be worthy winners of this season’s Europa League.
United have the attacking stars capable of
causing any defence problems on their day, but then, Sevilla are enjoying an incredible spell of form and their success in this tournament is well-documented.
It could be a thing backing the Andalusian club to scrape a narrow victory and advance to Friday’s final, which is prized a modest 2/1 on BetClever, but I’d rather pick Both Teams To Score at 21/20, as a safer punt in what should be an interesting clash between two attack-minded sides.