Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Sevilla
The two teams had contrasting outings in the quarter-final. Shakhtar Donetsk were 2-1 winners in the first leg at Portuguese side Braga and absolutely shellacked their opponents at home in a 4-0 win to secure their place in the last four with a 6-1 aggregate win.
Sevilla, on the other hand, had a difficult fixture on their way to the last four. They secured a 2-1 away win at Athletic Bilbao in the first leg, but the Basque outfit registered a 2-1 win of their own at the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan. After an aggregate 3-3 draw the match went to the penalty shootout, where Sevilla succeeded with a 5-4 win.
The 2009 Europa League winners have been the flag bearers of eastern European football for quite some time, and they will be eager to repeat the feat of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, who made it to the final of the competition last season, although Mircea Lucescu would love to do one better than the fellow Ukrainians.
Sevilla are a formidable side in the Europa League, and nothing attests to it than the fact that they have won the last two editions of the competition, and they look set for an unprecedented hat-trick. Unai Emery’s men will face stiff opposition from Lucescu’s charges as the vastly-experienced manager will not leave any stone unturned to take his team to the final at the expense of the Spaniards.
Emery’s tournament pedigree, however, will come in handy in this intriguing encounter.
Villarreal vs. Liverpool
The Yellow Submarine will sail into Liverpool for the first leg on 28th April and will look to storm the Anfield. Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men, currently lying fourth in the league standings, have built up a substantial lead over the fifth-placed side, meaning they have all but secured their place in the Champions League next season.
They have been playing exceedingly well throughout the season and progressing to the final of the Europa League, especially at the expense of Liverpool, would be icing on the cake.
The Reds registered a stirring win over Borussia Dortmund in their quarter-final to make the last four. Liverpool had secured a 1-1 result away at the Signal Iduna Park. However, they looked to be going out of the competition in the return leg at Anfield as the Black and Yellows ran into a 3-1 lead by the hour mark. But Liverpool marked a comeback that brought back memories of Istanbul 2005 as they recovered to win 4-3 and secure a 5-4 aggregate result and with it a place in the last four.
Jurgen Klopp’s men look unlikely to make the Champions League next season through a top-four finish in the Premier League. In the given circumstances he will be eager to win the Europa League in order to secure a place in the elite European competition.
However, the road for Liverpool will be a difficult one as Villarreal are no pushovers and have European ambitions of their own.