Sevilla-Zenit matchup headlines UEFA Europa League Quarterfinals
Paolo Buendia on Apr 16, 2015 01:23 PM
Denis Suarez will look to lead Sevilla to a repeat. (Photo courtesy of UEFA.com)
Sevilla is still in the hunt for a repeat of the club’s 2014 Europa League triumph and will be going up against familiar foes Zenit. Three other exciting matchups will be played this week. Club Brugge takes on Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Dynamo Kyiv will be up against Italian squad Fiorentina while Wolfsburg goes up against Napoli.
Sevilla FC v FC Zenit
Defending champion Sevilla is on an excellent run of victories at home in European matches, winning the last seven matches. Sevilla and Zenit both have experience winning this competition. Their head-to-head record is one win each, with two draws in four matches. It was in this stage in the 2005/2006 season where Sevilla defeated Zenit 5-2 aggregate to capture the title. Zenit has an awful record in Spain and have won only six of the last twelve away matches in this competition, losing the other six. I predict a win for the Spanish club.
Club Brugge KV v FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Belgian squad Brugge is still unbeaten in this competition for the season, winning eleven and drawing the other three matches. This is in contrast with the away record of Dnipro this season, winning only one in the last seven European matches. Joint top-scorer Lior Refaelov is the primary scoring threat for Brugge and will surely receive a physical treatment from a Dnipro side that leads this competition with one hundred seventy nine fouls committed. I believe the experience and momentum of the home side will be enough to secure the victory.
FC Dynamo Kyiv v ACF Fiorentina
Dynamo has found Fiorentina a tough opponent in the past, registering zero wins in four previous matches. Aside from this statistic, the Ukrainian side has done superbly at home this season, winning the last five matches convincingly. Fiorentina on the other hand, is unbeaten away from with eight wins and three draws in the last eleven European matches. The Italian club was one of the early favorites of this competition and still has a chance to give Italian football a boost by going all the way to the finals. I see a tough match with La Viola coming out on top.
VfL Wolfsburg v SSC Napoli
Napoli is the other past winner of this competition, along with Sevilla and Zenit that are still in the hunt for the trophy. The Italian squad’s season has not gone well, crashing out of the Italian Cup and giving up third place in Serie A to Roma. The Europa League is the last chance for silverware that could save Coach Rafa Benitez’s job at the end of the season. German club is the most inexperienced club left but has a good home record of three wins, one draw and one loss in the last five European home matches. Napoli is unbeaten in three away matches but drew two and only won one game. Joint top-scorer Gonzalo Higuain will be the target man for Napoli and with the last trophy available on the line, I predict he will be the difference to clinch the victory.
Sevilla is still the frontrunner to retain the title but both Napoli and Fiorentina have the quality to give the Spanish club a tough challenge. The Wolfsburg v Napoli match is the match to look forward to.
Below is the schedule of the first leg of the Quarterfinal matches shown on Balls Channel 34 and Destiny Channel 36.
April 17, 2015 at 3:00 am - Dynamo Kiev v Fiorentina
April 17, 2015 at 5:00 am - Wolfsburg v Napoli (LIVE at 3:00 am on ABS-CBN Sports + Action 23)
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