11th May, 2023 @ 07:13 am
Juventus ended their dismal away run during the previous month with an important 2-0 win over Atalanta, putting them one step closer to returning to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) next season. But for the time being, their attention is focused on Turin, where they defeated Sporting CP 1-0 at home in the UEFA Europa League (UEL) quarter-finals.
Perhaps most crucially, manager Max Allegri stated that his players are in a "mentally good" state ahead of their semi-final home leg against UEL kings Sevilla, whom they last saw in the 2016/17 UCL group stage during Allegri's previous tenure! Juventus come into the match unblemished in this season (W4, D2) following a series of cagey confrontations averaging fewer than two goals per game, nine years after their last UEL campaign, in which they were eliminated by Benfica in the semi-finals.
Sevilla can focus their attention on their 50th match in the UEL's elimination round after nearly probably achieving La Liga safety under new manager José Luis Mendilibar, despite the fact that they are unlikely to rocket into European qualifying or slip into the relegation zone. The 62-year-old made his UEL management debut in Sevilla's 5-2 aggregate quarter-final win over Manchester United, a feat he himself described as "surprising."
Mendilibar believes Juventus are "stronger" and "more challenging" than the English giants, but he knows his club is up to the task following five wins in their past six competitive games (L1). An away win may be too much to ask given that Juve haven't won any of their last six knockout round-away matches (in two-leg ties) played at an opposing venue (D2, L4), nor have they ever lost a UEL home fixture (W7, D7).
Players to watch: Duan Vlahovi has returned to form for Juventus, netting the second goal in each of their previous two competitive matches, and will be seeking to replicate his three consecutive scoring performances for club or country between September and October 2022. Papu Gómez of Sevilla has met Juventus more times than any other club (23), but has only won once (D8, L14) and scored once - in 2010/11!
Only the winning team scored in all but two of Sevilla's ten UEL matches since the start of 2021/22.