Match Feature: Sevilla v Fiorentina

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Holders Sevilla are within sight of a second successive final appearance as they prepare to welcome  Fiorentina in the Uefa Europa League semifinals.

Sevilla are edging towards their second successful defence as they square up to ACF Fiorentina in the Uefa  Europa League semifinals.

Previous meetings

The sides are meeting for the first time in Uefa competition.Sevilla Uefa

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Sevilla’s record against Italian clubs is W0 D1 L3 (W0 D1 L0 at home; W0 D0 L2 in Italy). They lost 3-1 to AC Milan in the 2007 Uefa Super Cup in Monaco, with Renato’s 14th-minute strike in that game their only goal in four fixtures against Serie A sides.

Fiorentina’s record against Spanish clubs is: W2 D4 L6 (W2 D1 L1 at home; W0 D2 L3 away). They have yet to win in Spain, where they suffered a defeat in Madrid against Real Madrid CF in the 1957 European Champion Clubs’ Cup final, and also lost to Club Atlético de Madrid in the 1962 European Cup Winners’ Cup final replay.

Form guide

Sevilla have won their last eight European home games – including all six this season – since losing 2-0 to neighbours Real Betis Balompié in last season’s round of 16.

Fiorentina are unbeaten in their last 12 European away games (W8 D4); their last European defeat on the road was a 3-2 loss at FC Bayern München in the 2009/10 Uefa Champions League round of 16.

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Sevilla have never been eliminated in a European semifinal, winning all three of their previous last-four ties.

Fiorentina have won four of their six European semifinals, but lost the most recent one on penalties following 210 goalless minutes against Rangers FC in the 2007/08 Uefa Cup.

Trivia and links

Having played his 45th game in the quarterfinals, Sevilla’s Daniel Carriço has made more Uefa Europa League appearances (group stage to final) than any other player in the competition’s history.

This year’s Uefa Europa League final is in Warsaw, and Sevilla’s Grzegorz Krychowiak is the only Polish player who still has a chance of playing in the decider in his home country.

Fiorentina’s Gonzalo Rodríguez and Matías Fernández played alongside Sevilla’s Mariano Barbosa at Villarreal CF. Fernández is a former Sporting Clube de Portugal teammate of Daniel Carriço.

Sevilla’s Fernando Navarro and Fiorentina’s Borja Valero were teammates at RCD Mallorca.

Fiorentina’s Joaquín started his career with Sevilla’s neighbours Real Betis Balompié and played under current Sevilla coach Unai Emery at Valencia CF (2008–11), where Sevilla’s Éver Banega was one of his teammates.

Other Fiorentina players have Liga experience too: Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal CF 2007–13), Marcos Alonso (Real Madrid CF 2010) and Khouma Babacar (Real Racing Club 2012).

Fiorentina boast the best pass completion rate of the four semifinalists in this season’s competition: 88percent. Like Sevilla and SSC Napoli, they have lost only once since the start of the group stage.

Sevilla are hoping to become the first side to win the Uefa Cup/Uefa Europa League for a fourth time. Three other sides can match their current tally of three victories: FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus and Liverpool FC.

Italian sides have won the Uefa Cup and Uefa Europa League nine times, more than any other nation, though there have been no wins since Parma FC took the trophy in 1998/99. However, Spain is catching up fast, with eight victories to date – six in the last 11 years.

Winners of the inaugural European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1961, Fiorentina were losers in the 1956/57 European Cup and 1989/90 Uefa Cup finals.

With 40 goals to date, Fiorentina’s Mario Gomez is the fourth highest-scoring German player in Uefa club competition. Gerd Müller (62), Jupp Heynckes (45) and Ulf Kirsten (43) are above him.

Zenit’s elimination in the quarterfinals means that – for the first time since the advent of the Uefa Cup group stage in 2004/05 – none of the sides that transferred over from the Uefa Champions League at the end of the group stage have made it to the semifinals.

The coaches

Sevilla boss since January 2013, one-time midfielder Unai Emery switched from playing to coaching at Lorca Deportiva CF. Having led UD Almería to the top tier, he coached Valencia CF from 2008 to 2012, with his side regular European contenders during that spell.

Fiorentina boss since June 2012, Vincenzo Montella was known as ‘L’Aeroplanino’ (the Little Aeroplane) because of his modest stature and trademark goal celebrations during his time as a striker. An Italian international, he won the 2000/01 Serie A title with Roma, and has coached Roma and Calcio Catania since hanging up his boots.

Unai Emery, Sevilla coach

We have to pay attention to Mario Gomez, Mohamed Salah, Borja Valero and Marcos Alonso when he gets forward. Fiorentina are coming to the end of a very good season – we are two similar teams, looking at the trophies both clubs have won, so it is an even tie. Fiorentina have eliminated three great teams – Tottenham, Roma and Dynamo Kyiv. They also have plenty of good players – I know Joaquín very well as I had him at Valencia.

As for the AC Milan rumours in the newspapers, I have to say I am very happy in Seville and only thinking about this tie against Fiorentina. This is a special moment as both teams can write a new chapter in their history. The past is very nice but it is the past. The most important thing is the here and now, and right now we are two equal sides that want to win this competition. It is a 180-minute tie and we should be ready for it to last even longer.

Vincenzo Montella, Fiorentina coach

It is a pleasure to play in the semifinals and to have the chance of reaching the final. I don’t think there is a correct way of playing this game as Sevilla are a complete team. They know how to defend, attack and counterattack. They have done very well in Europe in recent seasons so it will be a good match for both teams and their supporters. There will be a good atmosphere which I hope will provide my players with added motivation.

Unai Emery is a great coach – he has proved it in the past and he is doing it again. The first leg is very important, but not decisive as long as there is not a big difference in goals scored. It is an incentive for us if people are considering Sevilla favourites.

Expert predictions

Nick Aitken: Sevilla have won five of their six knockout games this term, but in overcoming VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, Villarreal CF and FC Zenit, they have certainly not had an easy path to the last four. Their clinical counterattacking means they look more dangerous with a result to protect, which suggests that what might seem an advantage for Fiorentina – i.e. playing the semifinal second leg in Florence – could prove to be the opposite.

Paolo Menicucci: Sevilla have a fantastic pedigree in the competition. “They are the holders and must therefore be considered favourites,” Montella said after the draw. However, the Viola have all the cards required to compete, especially if they can claim that potentially crucial away goal in the first leg.

Possible line-ups

Sevilla: Rico; Coke, Carriço, Kolodziejczak, Trémoulinas; Banega, Krychowiak; Aleix Vidal, Iborra, Vitolo; Bacca.

Doubtful: Beto (shoulder)

Out: Pareja (knee)

Fiorentina: Neto; Tomovic, Savic, Gonzalo Rodríguez, Alonso; Borja Valero, Pizarro, Fernández; Joaquín, Salah, Gomez.

Out: Babacar (knee), Rossi (knee)

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