Italian clubs gunning for UEFA Europa League title
Paolo Buendia on May 06, 2015 11:38 AM
Napoli's Marek Hamsik (Photo via AP Images)
Italy is well represented in the last four of this competition with two teams vying for the trophy. Napoli and Fiorentina are going up against Dnipro and Sevilla respectively, making an all-Italian final a big possibility. Fiorentina will have the tougher matchup facing the defending champion Sevilla while Napoli will be up against a tough Dnipro side that leads the competition with forty three yellow cards.
SSC Napoli v FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Coach Rafa Benitez is in familiar territory as the Spanish coach looks at a third trophy in this competition. Winning the UEFA Cup with Valencia and the Europa League with Chelsea, Benitez knows that his experience will be valuable in this crucial stage of the cup. The Italian side has not lost in the last twelve matches in Europe at home, winning nine and losing three. Top scorer Gonzalo Higuain leads the tournament with seven goals, while midfield trio of Marek Hamsik, Dries Martens and Jonathan de Guzman have scored four goals apiece. The squad has no major injuries and can count on a full roster in game day. First time semifinalists Dnipro hold a poor away record in this competition with only win one win, four draws and three losses since the start of the season. The tough and physical style of play the Ukrainian side possesses will cause problems for the Italians but I predict a win by Napoli.
Sevilla FC v ACF Fiorentina
Former UEFA Cup winner Fiorentina takes on three-time champion Sevilla in the other semifinal. Both sides boast of impressive records entering into this match with Sevilla winning the last eight home matches in Europe while Fiorentina is unbeaten in the last twelve European away matches, winning eight and drawing four. History is on the side of Sevilla, having won the UEFA Cup in succeeding seasons on 2006 and 2007. Carlos Bacca and Kevin Gamiero are the danger men up front, scoring three and four goals respectively but the scoring load is shared in midfield with Denis Suarez, Vitolo and Stephane Mbia all scoring three goals each. Mario Gomez and Mohamed Salah will be the focus of the Italian club’s attack with able support from Juan Manuel Vargas and Josip Illicic in midfield. One of the streaks of these clubs will come to an end and I believe Sevilla will win this match.
Sevilla and Napoli are the teams favored to win their matchups but an upset by Fiorentina will give us an all-Italian final. Since the state of Italian football is on the decline, an all-Italian final will help raise the spirits of the Italian fans going through the tough times along with the rest of the Serie A squads.
Below is the schedule of the first leg of the Semifinal matches shown on Balls Channel 34 and Destiny Channel 36.
May 8, 2015 at 3:00 am - Napoli v Dnipro (also LIVE on ABS-CBN Sports + Action ch 23)
May 8, 2015 at 5:00 am – Sevilla v Fiorentina
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