Soccer Europa League - Play-Offs Prediction
AS Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen - Match Preview
⚽ 11 May 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
After lifting their first European title for over 60 years by winning last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League, Roma heads into this Europa League (UEL) semi-final bidding to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat to Inter Milan at the weekend. That was a fourth-successive game without a win for José Mourinho’s side (D2, L2), but the manager insists he’s “optimistic” his players will return to form, despite admitting they are “tired” after a hectic schedule.
Success in the UEL might be Roma’s best hope of qualifying for Europe next season, given their poor domestic form has seen them drop out of the top six. Returning to UEL action perhaps comes as a welcome distraction then, and Roma supporters will be confident of securing a first-leg triumph against Bayer Leverkusen at Stadio Olimpico, where the Italian outfit has lost just one of their last 24 European matches (W17, D6).
Leverkusen certainly look set to test that record, as they make the trip from Germany on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run away from the BayArena (W6, D3), with a water-tight defence keeping a clean sheet in four of the last five! They do head to Rome on a bit of a downer though, with a 2-1 Bundesliga derby defeat at home to Cologne on Friday all but ending their hopes of a top-four finish.
However, manager Xabi Alonso is confident his side can bounce back as they look to reach their first European final since 2002. The former Liverpool midfielder, who has the added distraction of being linked with the vacant Tottenham job, has urged his players to make May a month to “forever remember” as they seek a first win on Italian soil this century (D1, L5).
📋 Key battle: Roma will be hoping captain Lorenzo Pellegrini can find the target considering he’s never lost a home European game in which he has scored (W5, D1). He will be looking to extend that record against Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, who has kept just two clean sheets in his last 15 European away appearances (W8, D2, L5).
⚡ Hot streak: Both teams have scored in the previous four meetings between these sides.
Juventus vs Sevilla - Match Preview
⚽ 11 May 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
Juventus ended their appalling away form over the previous month with a crucial 2-0 win against Atalanta to move them one step closer to a return to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) next season. But for now, their focus shifts back to Turin, where a 1-0 home win against Sporting CP in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League (UEL) was the difference between the two sides.
Perhaps most importantly, manager Max Allegri declared the players are in a “mentally good” state ahead of their semi-final home leg against UEL kings Sevilla, who they last met in the 2016/17 UCL group stage during Allegri’s previous stint as a boss! Nine years after their last UEL appearance, in which they were eliminated by Benfica in the semi-finals, Juventus come into the clash unbeaten in this edition (W4, D2) after a series of cagey affairs averaging fewer than two goals per game.
Unlikely to soar into European qualification or fall into the relegation zone, Sevilla can focus their efforts on their 50th match in the UEL’s knockout phase after almost certainly attaining La Liga safety under new manager José Luis Mendilibar. The 62-year-old made his UEL managerial debut in Sevilla’s 5-2 aggregate quarter-final defeat of Manchester United, which was a feat that even he described as “surprising”.
Mendilibar assessed Juventus as “stronger” and “more challenging” than the English giants, though he’ll know his team are right up to the task after five wins from their last six competitive outings (L1). An away win might be a little too much to ask, considering they haven’t won any of their last six knockout round-away legs (in two-leg ties) played at an opposition venue (D2, L4), nor have Juve ever lost a UEL home fixture (W7, D7).
📋 Players to watch: Dušan Vlahović is finally back in form with Juve’s second goal in each of their last two competitive fixtures, and will be hoping to emulate his three straight scoring appearances for club or country from Sept-Oct 2022. Sevilla winger Papu Gómez has faced Juventus more than any other club (23), but has tasted victory only once (D8, L14) and recorded just one goal - in 2010/11!
⚡ Hot stat: All but two of Sevilla’s ten UEL matches since the start of 2021/22 saw only the winning team score.
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