Soccer Europa League - Play-Offs Prediction
Feyenoord vs AS Roma - Match Preview
⚽ 13 April 2023 - 16:45 GMT +0
The UEFA Europa League (UEL) quarter-final has thrown up a fantastic fixture here as Arne Slot’s Feyenoord are handed an opportunity to exact revenge over their opponents from the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) final last season, Roma. Since losing that game 1-0, Feyenoord went on to top their UEL group in the autumn before cantering to an eight-point lead in the Eredivisie title race.
The Dutch outfit reached the top of the UEL scoring charts for the season with their incredible 7-1 win over Shakhtar here in Rotterdam (G21), which is part of an impressive six-game sequence of competitive home games in which they’ve bagged 20 times (W5, L1). This fantastic Feyenoord side has no reason to fear their Italian visitors either, having avoided defeat in all but one historical H2H against such sides on Dutch soil (W4, D3, L1).
If any man can put a dent in that imperious home record, it could be Roma’s highly decorated boss José Mourinho. Whilst he’s called this season’s UEL “a tough one” in the build-up, his side has already knocked out two solid sides in RB Salzburg and Real Sociedad. Further fanning the flames of belief is back-to-back Serie A wins without reply to solidify Roma’s Champions League qualification claims, so they should travel here with confidence.
Getting a foothold in this tie certainly isn’t a given for Roma though, with the visitors failing to score in their last two European road trips after scoring in each of the 24 prior! They also lost the first away leg of last season’s UECL quarter-final 2-1 to Bodø/Glimt, although an eight-game unbeaten run against Eredivisie opponents may ease those fears somewhat (W4, D4).
📋 Players to watch: Feyenoord’s Santiago Giménez is just one goal shy of the UEL’s top-scorer spot with five goals so far, three of which came against Roma’s city rivals, Lazio! Waiting to pounce on any Feyenoord mistakes will be Roma’s Paulo Dybala, who has scored penalties in each of their last two matches.
⚡ Hot stat: Feyenoord are unbeaten in each of their last 13 European home games (W11, D2).
Bayer Leverkusen vs Royale Union SG - Match Preview
⚽ 13 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
Whilst they continue charging towards the Bundesliga’s five UEFA group stage places like a champion racehorse, Bayer Leverkusen will now look to transfer that winning momentum into Europe as they bid to advance to the semi-finals of a UEFA tournament for the first time since 2001/02. Success seems to follow manager Xabi Alonso wherever he goes, and the man with more than 125 European appearances as a player has them approaching this first leg with a seven-game winning streak in all competitions following a pair of 2-0 wins over Ferencváros in the last-16 of the UEFA Europa League (UEL).
Alonso will now hope that momentum can help Leverkusen overcome the psychological scars of three consecutive eliminations at the quarter-finals stage of the UEL/UEFA Cup, and they cannot take Belgian opposition for granted after failing to defeat Club Brugge on both occasions in this season’s Champions League (D1, L1). Whilst they have since dropped down into UEFA’s second-tier club competition, upcoming opponents Royale Union SG are challenging for the Belgian Pro League title and are 14 points ahead of Club Brugge!
Further to that, Royale has already taken three positive results against a German club higher in the Bundesliga standings than Leverkusen. A 1-0 group stage win against Union Berlin and a 6-3 aggregate triumph over the same club in the last round got them deeper into a UEFA competition than ever before, which is especially impressive as they are now the only remaining side out of four UEL group stage debutants in this edition.
Three wins from three group stage away trips propelled them to the top of Group D prior to that pair of three-goal hauls against Union Berlin in the Round of 16. That ensured the Belgian side has now scored 2+ goals in seven of their ten UEFA outings this season, so expect them to come out firing in an attempt to secure a first-leg advantage.
📋 Players to watch: After scoring in three of Leverkusen’s five consecutive Bundesliga wins, Sardar Azmoun will be hoping to convert that form into his first UEFA goal of the season. Maltese Royale midfielder Teddy Teuma has scored after half-time in two of their three league games since their last UEFA tie and has already been involved in five continental goals (G2, A3) this season.
⚡ Hot stat: Leverkusen scored before half-time in all but one of their last 12 competitive wins.
Juventus vs Sporting CP - Match Preview
⚽ 13 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
After a 2-1 defeat against Lazio over the weekend, Juventus’ route into the UEFA Champions League (UCL) via Serie A now looks to be blocked off. They do have an alternate path into next season’s UCL, but that would require them to win the Europa League (UEL), a trophy they last lifted back in 1992/93 under the UEFA Cup name when they interestingly beat Portuguese opposition in the quarter-finals.
That’s perhaps an omen they can take confidence from ahead of the visit of Sporting Lisbon, but the biggest confidence booster of all for Juve is surely the fact that they have never lost a home match in the UEL (W6, D7). They’ll undoubtedly be confident of extending that run here and should be buoyed by the fact they’ve won their last three European outings without conceding a goal!
With no more than an outside chance of securing a Primeira Liga UCL spot despite a thrilling 4-3 win against Casa Pia at the weekend, this competition also represents Sporting’s best chance of dining out with Europe’s elite next season. Sporting booked their spot in the quarter-finals in impressive fashion, knocking out one of the UEL’s biggest hitters as they dispatched Arsenal on penalties in the last-16.
This promises to be another stern test though and Sporting travel to Turin carrying the burden of failing to win any of their 15 European away games against Italian opposition (D4, L11). However, a run of just one defeat in their last six European games on their travels (W2, D3) should boost belief that the Portuguese side can pull off an Italian job on one of the continent’s biggest clubs.
📋 Players to watch: Juventus’ Ángel Di María has made the UEL knockout stages his own, with four goals already, the last two of which have interestingly been headers. A happy traveller, Pedro Gonçalves scored in the away leg of both Sporting’s play-off and last-16 successes.
⚡ Hot stat: Sporting has won just two of their last 16 UEL knockout games (D6, L8).
Manchester Utd vs Sevilla - Match Preview
⚽ 13 April 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag hit out against the Premier League’s fixture scheduling after their 2-0 win against Everton on Saturday, but the Dutchman has the rare opportunity of a four-day break between fixtures as the Red Devils return to the European stage. With one trophy already secured after their Carabao Cup success, United will be looking to replicate their 2017 triumph in the UEFA Europa League (UEL).
Hosting the first leg certainly seems a good omen, with ten Hag’s men unbeaten at Old Trafford in 24 matches (W21, D3), a run that stretches back to September 2022. Their last home loss came against Real Sociedad in this competition, although they’ve gone some distance to avenging that defeat since, avoiding defeat in five competitive meetings against Spanish opposition (W4, D1).
Sevilla may be a different beast though, with the UEL specialists arriving in Manchester having never lost an H2H against the Red Devils (W2, D1). After sacking Jorge Sampaoli over the international break, new boss José Luis Mendilibar has overseen an unbeaten start to life at the helm (W1, D1), although he was left frustrated by a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo in their last outing.
Mendilibar described VAR and the referee’s performance as “nonsense” after his side had two players sent off in that match, but they won’t be suspended for the trip to England as Sevilla looks to master UEFA’s second-tier competition for a seventh time. If they’re to manage that, they’ll need to improve on the road, as they’ve won just one of their last eight away matches (D1, L6), while they’ve lost four UEL trips in a row and were knocked out of this competition by English opposition last season (West Ham).
📋 Players to watch: Described by Ten Hag as the best player on the pitch against Everton, Bruno Fernandes is United’s most dangerous weapon in the UEL, directly contributing to 17 goals in 24 appearances in this competition for the club (G9, A8). Sevilla may then turn to frontman Youssef En-Nesyri who has scored in back-to-back games under Mendilibar.
⚡ Hot stat: Man Utd have scored 11 of their last 14 goals after half-time.
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