The Europa League is fast moving into it’s final stages as the previous 8 sides have been whittled down to 4. Italy have dominated the tournament so far and boast 2 sides in the semi-finals: Napoli and Fiorentina. Reigning champions Sevilla represent Spain whilst the surprise package is certainly Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk of Ukraine. With 4 games to go in the Serie A season, both Napoli and Fiorentina are currently outside of the Champions League qualification places making the Europa League a must win tournament. Sevilla are in the same boat, however only have 3 games to guarantee qualification via the league, therefore allowing the Europa League to only be a back up. Dnipro currently sit second in their league, in a Champions League qualification spot but with 4 games left and only a 1 point cushion from Shakhtar. The prize of UCL qualification for this years UEL winners is a massive incentive for all four clubs.
For me, the tie of the round is the second one as Sevilla face Fiorentina. Sevilla know how to win this tournament yet Fiorentina have snuck into the semi-finals without being talked about much. Underestimate Fiorentina at your peril, they have the quality to go all the way. In the other match, Napoli will be hoping to avoid the banana skin that is Dnipro – they should but it won’t be easy. With most bookies, Napoli remain the favourites with Sevilla second, Fiorentina third and Dnipro the outsiders. It’s worth taking that information with a pinch of salt for while they seem logical, less is known about Dnipro in this country for less is known about Ukrainian domestic football. They’ve done brilliantly to get this far, and they won’t want to throw all that effort away now.
As per usual, I will update this page on the day following the matches with the details. Once again, all the matches kick off at 20:05 british time. Finally, the matches take place on the 7th and 14th May with the final later this month.
First leg: Napoli 1 – 1 Dnipro
- López (Napoli, 50′)
- Seleznyov (Dnipro, 81′)
Second leg (ITV4): Dnipro 1 – 0 Napoli
- Seleznyov (Dnipro, 58′)
First leg (ITV4): Sevilla 3 – 0 Fiorentina
- Vidal (Sevilla, 17′, 52′)
- Gameiro (Sevilla, 75′)
Second leg: Fiorentina 0 – 2 Sevilla
- Bacca (Sevilla, 22′)
- Carriço (Sevilla, 27′)
That’s how four got reduced to 2 and our final, to be played in Warsaw on the 27th May, was confirmed. In all honesty, the line up for the final is a wee bit of a surprise. I think very few people expected Dnipro to get this far, probably including their own fans! That 2-1 semi-final victory over Napoli was the biggest shock of the tournament so far. Meanwhile, Sevilla look good to win 2 Europa League’s in 2 years as they demolished Fiorentina in both Spain and Italy.
We should be in for a very exciting final so remember to keep checking this blog for updates on May 27th on how it unfolds! I don’t know the format yet but I will be keeping a close eye on how the match goes.
Next time: As stated above, it’s the final!