Europa League Finals
Benfica and Sevilla to Meet in Turin for the Europa League Finals
Portuguese side Benfica and La Liga club Sevilla will play against each other for the Europa League title in Turin on May 14th after winning their respective semifinal ties. The second leg of both match-ups especially the later part were breath-taking and worth watching for football fans.
In Turin, Benfica managed in hold back a late Juventus surge of attacks, ending the second leg of their semifinal tie scoreless. This is all they need to advance to the finals of the Europa League in Turin having won the first leg 2-1. This will be their second trip to the finals after losing to Chelsea last year. They’re hoping that this time they’ll be able to finally lift the trophy in Turin.
On the other match-up, Sevilla booked their ticket to the finals in the most stunning way after Stephane Mbia scored a late goal in the 4th minute of stoppage time. The late goal broke the hearts of those in attendance at the Estadi de Mestalla who were already celebrating thinking that Valencia already secured a ticket to Turin. Because of the late strike, their series ended with an aggregate score 3-3 and Sevilla win on away goals. The Rojiblancos have won the first leg of the series 2-0 on their home ground and all they need was one away goal to erase the 3-0 advantage of Valencia during the match.
The Road to Turin
The road to the finals wasn’t easy for both clubs as they both need to face past European champions and rejuvenated clubs that are hungry for glory.
In the group stage, Sevilla managed to win both of their matches against Bundesliga side Freiburg 2-0 and draw both matches against Liberec. They also won against Portugese club Estoril and then drew with them on their second meeting. In the knock-out phase, they were drawn against Slovenian club Maribor in which they drew their first match 2-2 on Maribor’s home ground. Then, they won the second leg of the knock-out phase 2-1 at home to advance to the round of 16 in which they were pitted against arch-rivals real Betis. The series between the two clubs was a one sided affair and Sevilla won both matches 2-0. That scoreline was more than enough for them to go to the next phase of the competition. In the quarterfinals, they were to face their toughest opponent yet, FC Porto. This club have already won the Europa League twice and is a Portuguese football powerhouse. Porto won the first match 1-0 that gave a slight advantage over the Sevilla, but the Spanish underdogs managed to pull a surprise in the second match when they scored 4 goals to go to the semis.
The road to the finals was different for Benfica. They started the season playing European football in the Group C of the Champions League. But after the group stage, they were relegated to the Europa League after finishing only third in their group after PSG and Olympiakos. In the knock-out stage, they won their series against Greek club PAOK in a very convincing manner to advance to the round of 16 phase were they had their first real test in the competition. They have to get over English side Tottenham in order to stay alive in the tourney. Benfica exceeded everyone’s expectations after they win the first leg 3-1 in White Hart Lane in London. The Hotspurs drew with them 2-2 on the second leg but that wasn’t enough for the EPL club as Benfica advanced to the quarterfinals. In the last 8, they breezed through their matches against Dutch club AZ Alkmaar to an aggregate score of 3-0 to walk to the semi’s.
The last meetings between Sevilla and Benfica happened way back in 1957. These two sides met two times that year. Sevilla won 3-1 in their first game and then they had a scoreless draw in the second meeting. This for sure has no bearing anymore in their upcoming finals match in Italy.
Whats the Odds?
Having made it to the Europa League finals last season and having more European football experience, Benfica is seen by many bookmakers as the favorite in this match-up. Many bookmakers are putting the odds on Benfica at around 2 while they have Sevilla at around 3. But despite being seen as an underdog, no one should count Sevilla out as this club have already proven that they can face any challenge thrown to them and can pull out surprises during times when everybody thought they’ve already lost the fight.
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“By Noli Samiento”
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