Europa League Match Preview: Fiorentina Vs Sevilla
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk has home advantage to extend its remarkable run in the Europa League to the final, while titleholder Sevilla holds a commanding lead over Fiorentina and just needs to see out the win on Thursday.
Napoli was the overwhelming favorite at home to Dnipro in their semifinal first leg last week, but was left frustrated when substitute Yevhen Seleznyov scored a late equalizer for a 1-1 draw.
That set up a tense deciding leg in Kiev, where Dnipro must play its European home games due to UEFA security concerns over the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The away goals rule means a goalless draw would see Dnipro reach the May 27 final in Warsaw, Poland.
Sevilla is all but confirmed for the final after beating Fiorentina 3-0 at home, and faces an injury-weakened Italian team away.
That would put Sevilla on course to a record fourth title in the competition. Plus, for the first time, the Europa League winner will qualify for the next edition of the Champions League, a big potential boost for a Sevilla team which sits fifth in the Spanish league, outside the Champions League spots.
Sevilla forward Iago Aspas is particularly keen to impress in the return leg at Fiorentina. On loan from Liverpool, he wants the Spanish side to pay the 7 million euros ($7.9 million) required to make him a permanent player.
At Liverpool, Aspas found it hard to get minutes on the pitch, with stiff competition from Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. “I did not have the playing time that I wanted,” he said.
However, he has kept a close eye on how Suarez has fared at Barcelona, and clearly would like to emulate him. Aspas has 10 goals in 909 minutes played.
“I was proud to play with him. I am not at all surprised how things are going for him at Barcelona. Training with him day to day, I saw the player he was.”
Aspas said that despite being injured for a month, he had been able to contribute to helping Sevilla stay in contention.
Fiorentina defender Micah Richards and winger Juan Vargas have been ruled out due to thigh muscle tears, while Nenad Tomovic, another defender, is questionable with a minor injury.