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UEL crunch time!

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And then there were four! After an exhilarating quarterfinal round with upsets, comebacks, and brilliant performances, there are four teams left standing in the Europa League- Roma, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, and Sevilla.

Sevilla’s upset of Manchester United cancelled the prospect of a Juventus vs Man Utd semifinal, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma completed their comeback against Feyenoord in extra time as they hunt their second consecutive European trophy.

Xabi Alonso’s tactics have transformed Bayer Leverkusen and they seek to win their first European trophy since UEFA Cup in 1987/88. So, who wins it all in one of the most open tournaments in recent memory?

Here are the Europa League semifinal predictions-

Juventus vs Sevilla prediction

Juventus started off the season under Massimiliano Allegri inauspiciously. They couldn’t buy a goal and off-field controversy compounded their worries as they were hit by a 15-pt deduction in Serie A.

However, clouds have begun clearing up since. A surge of form has seen them enter the semifinals of the Europa League. Moreover, their points deduction has been reversed for now, taking them straight to third, and UCL qualifying position in Serie A.

The burden of goalscoring has been shared among the squad, with Adrien Rabiot and Dusan Vlahovic leading the way. Juventus are still more about substance than style when it comes to goalscoring, but they have figured out a way to win most games. That quality is crucial in knockout football.

Sevilla, on the other hand, are on a high after upsetting Manchester United in the quarterfinals. While they have always been United’s bogey team in Europe, the manner in which they blew away the Red Devils at their home put Europe on notice.

Their domestic campaign has been far from ideal but even that has started to pick up since the arrival of new coach Jose Luis Mendilibar.

Expect this to be a closely contested affair decided by few goals. In an attritional tie, Juventus and Allegri’s big-game know-how and individual quality should triumph over Sevilla’s upstarts.

Prediction- Juventus

AS Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen

This is a game with so many narratives. The master vs protege as Jose Mourinho faces Xabi Alonso. The wunderkind manager Alonso comes up against the man who many believe is a relic of the past trying to recapture old glories.

There’s AS Roma, trying to win a second consecutive European trophy after winning the Conference League last season. There’s Bayer Leverkusen, who were sitting in Bundesliga’s relegation zone when Xabi Alonso took over, and are now well placed to finish in European places and fight for the Europa League.

AS Roma dispatched Feyenoord in a thrilling affair that went into extra time after losing the away leg. Leverkusen avoided an upset of their own as they coolly put Union Saint-Gillioise to the sword in a 4-1 away victory.

It is rarely wise to doubt Jose Mourinho in knockout football while for Xabi Alonso, it is the first time he has reached this stage.

There is a feeling that this fixture is the first in a growth curve for a young manager and his young team. While AS Roma and Bayer Leverkusen can’t be separated by much in terms of individual qualities, expect Mourinho’s tactical nous to cancel out Bayer Leverkusen and Xabi Alonso’s threat in a professional performance by Roma. Xabi Alonso’s time will surely come, but for now, Mourinho is not relinquishing his throne.

Prediction- AS Roma

Regardless of who comes out on top, this year’s Europa League has been the most thrilling version of this competition for a long time. Be it with marquee fixtures like Manchester United vs Barcelona, or fairytale runs by Union Saint-Gilloise and Feyenoord, this tournament had something for everyone.

Vatsal Gupta
A die-hard Red Devil, who has straight up not had a good time since 2012. Lives on Korean dramas and books and can often be heard talking about armchair psychological stuff.

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