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EUROPA LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS BETTING PREVIEW 28.4.

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20:05 SHAKHTAR - SEVILLA

Winners of the two previous tournaments, Sevilla are well on their way to reach yet another Europa League final. Like their semi-final opponents Shakhtar, Sevilla were also knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage. Now both sides are seeking redemption is Europe's second biggest club football tournament. The two sides last came up against each other in the Europa League round of 16 in 2007, when Sevilla progressed in dramatic circumstances. First Sevilla's goalkeeper Andres Palop headed in an equalizer in the 90th minute, which was followed by a winner from Javier Chevanto in extra-time.

First leg hosts Shakhtar have gone from strength to strength in the Europa League this season, as they haven't lost a single match in the competition after being knocked out of the Champions League. The Ukrainians have eliminated Schalke (3-0), Anderlecht (4-1) and Braga (6-1) with some impressive performances. Their record in the knock-out stages currently stands at 5 wins and 1 draw. In their domestic league Shakhtar trail dominant leaders Dynamo Kiev by seven points. The hosts have gone seven games undefeated in all competitions with a run that has brought 4 wins and 3 draws. The goal difference from these matches is also pleasant reading for Shakhtar's fans, as they've scored 22 and conceded 7. The Ukrainians really know how to put the ball in the back of the net, which can be seen in their Europa League results so far.

Sevilla's road to the semis was a slightly rockier one. In the first round they defeated Molde 3-1, although the Norwegians did manage to win the second leg 1-0. In the round of 16 they faced Basel, who were comfortably dispatched 3-0. The quarter-finals brought their first real test, as they only scraped through on penalties against domestic rivals Athletic Bilbao. Sevilla's domestic season has been plagued by inconsistency. At their best, Sevilla are almost unstoppable, proof of this being their victories over both Barcelona and Real Madrid, while they also stole a point away to Atletico Madrid. The Spanish side's problem have been the so-called "easier" matches, where they've often dropped points, leaving them as low as seventh in the league table. Form isn't on Sevilla's side, as they've only managed one win in their last five matches.

One thing that can be said of Sevilla under Unai Emery's leadership is that they know how to win the big games. Knockout competitions seem to be their specialty, as they've claimed four of the last ten Europa League titles. However, Shakhtar have all the required qualities to end Sevilla's dominance in the competition, as they too have displayed devastating European form. Sevilla come into the match in a slight injury crisis, as midfielders Vicente Iborra, Michael Krohn-Dehli, Coke and Stefan Cristoforo along with striker Vitolo have all had some form of problem in recent weeks. All five could be cleared to play, but their match fitness remains a question mark for Emery.

This tie looks to be a tight affair. Both sides definitely know how to score, as Sevilla have scored in all of their last seven matches, while Shakhtar's similar run is as long as 14 matches. The Ukrainians should therefore not be underestimated, even if Sevilla has plenty of previous experience of winning the competition. 

Shakhtar's last five matches:

23.4.2016 Ch. Odessa - Shakhtar 1-1

20.4.2016 Oleksandriya - Shakhtar 1-1 (Ukrainian Cup)

17.4.2016 Shakhtar - Olimpik Donetsk 3-0

14.4.2016 Shakhtar - Braga 4-0 (Europa League)

10.4.2016 Stal Dniprodzerzhynsk - Shakhtar 3-3

Sevilla's last five matches:

24.4.2016 Sevilla - Betis 2-0

20.4.2016 Gijon - Sevilla 2-1

17.4.2016 Sevilla - Deportivo La Coruna 1-1

14.4.2016 Sevilla - Ath. Bilbao 2-2 (Europa League)

10.4.2016 Valencia - Sevilla 2-1

BETTING TIPS:

Home advantage counts for a lot in this competition. The likelihood of either team's progression is about 50-50, but in Ukraine Shakhtar are slight favourites. In terms of the odds Sevilla seem to be favoured a bit too much, so taking advantage of the underappreciated Ukrainians is a big part of our betting plans!

*** To progress: Shakhtar 8/5 Betsafe

** 1x2: Shakhtar 7/4 Betsafe

 

20:05 VILLAREAL - LIVERPOOL

The second semi-final pairing sees two sides who have performed convincingly in the Europa League this season come face to face. The hosts of the first leg Villareal have only lost once in their 12 Europa League games this season, while Liverpool have managed to avoid defeat altogether. Villareal are searching for their final appearance in the competition, as they wasted their last chance in 2011 against Porto in the semi-finals. Liverpool on the other hand have won the competition in 2001 and are looking to end their season on a high after a disappointing domestic campaign.

While Villareal failed to win their group, their form in the knockout stages has been much better. The Spaniards beat Sparta Praha 6-3 in the quarter-finals, while Leverkusen and Napoli were dispatched of in previous rounds 2-0 and 2-1 respectively. The last two mentioned were especially impressive performances, and now a similar showing is required in the semis if they want a chance to take home the trophy. Villareal's domestic form has also been good, as they currently occupy fourth place, which would earn them a place in next season's Champions League qualifiers. However, their form has showed signs of slowing down in recent weeks, as they've only managed a single point from their last three games, while being outscored 1-5 in the process.

Liverpool on the other hand have really picked up form in the Spring, losing only once in their last twelve matches in all competitions. Jurgen Klopp's arrival at Merseyside has really lifted spirits at Anfield, but in terms of the Premier League it was too little, too late, as the Champions League places seem to be out of reach for the Scousers. Now their only chance of reaching Europe's premier club competition remains winning the Europa League. After the group stage, Klopp's men have beaten Ausburg (1-0), Manchester United (3-1) and Dortmund (5-4), the latter coming after an incredible comeback at Anfield Road. That result against the Germans was so impressive that 'Pool can be considered slight favourites to progress to the final.

Klopp's arrival has been especially revitalizing for Liverpool's attack, as the last time the Merseysiders failed to find the back of the net dates as far back as the 18th of February, which was the first leg against Ausburg. Finding the net in 14 consecutive matches in no mean feat. The Reds come into the semis in challenging circumstances, as despite their good form they are struggling with injuries. Christian Benteke, Emre Can, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Divock Origi and Danny Ings all look likely to miss the first leg, while centre-back Mamadou Sakho faces a long spell on the sidelines due to his failed doping test. It seems that 'Pool travel to Spain with a limp.

The English side's injury problems present Villareal with a window of opportunity, and so far this season the Spaniards have proven more than capable of taking advantage of this kind of scenarios. In addition to eliminating Leverkusen and Napoli, the Yellow Submarine has sunk both Madrid sides once, while also claiming draws against Barcelona and Atletico. If the Liverpool defence has an off-day, the Spaniards could well almost finish off the tie in the first leg. However, for this to happen Villareal would have to find their early season form, as Liverpool's routine performance is currently on a higher level than the host's.

Villareal'sn last five matches:

24.4.2016 Villareal - Real Sociedad 0-0

20.4.2016 Real Madrid - Villareal 3-0

17.4.2016 Vallecano - Villareal 2-1

14.4.2016 Sparta Praha - Villareal 2-4

10.4.2016 Villareal - Getafe 2-0

Liverpool's last five matches:

23.4.2016 Liverpool - Newcastle 2-2

20.4.2016 Liverpool - Everton 4-0

17.4.2016 Bournemouth - Liverpool 1-2

14.4.2016 Liverpool - Dortmund 4-3

10.4.2016 Liverpool - Stoke 4-1

BETTING TIPS:

Liverpool will be looking for an away goal, which means that the continuation of their high-scoring matches wouldn't be a surprise. However, their injury problems and Villareal's home advantage mean that they come into tonight's match as slight underdogs. The odds for over-bets look good, so you should try as many of them as you can!

** Over 1.5 goals 23/50 Betsafe

** Over 2.5 goals 29/20 Betsafe

* Over 3.5 goals 18/5 Betsafe

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