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Sevilla’s Europa League title defense in jeopardy

Sevilla’s Europa League title defense is in jeopardy as their quarter-final tie against Zenit St Petersburg is poised precariously at 2-1 heading into today’s return leg in Russia.

The La Liga club had to battle back from a one-goal deficit to defeat Zenit in Spain last week. But while the three-time Europa League champions hold an advantage, their Russian opposition could knock them out of the tournament by securing a 1-0 victory at home today.

During the first leg, Zenit were without leading scorer Hulk, as well as midfielder Danny, Igor Smolnikov and Domenico Criscito; who were all suspended.

However, those players will return to the lineup today giving coach Andres Villas-Boas’ side a significant advantage in the crucial matchup.

Sevilla are unbeaten in the their last twelve games in all competitions and fully focused on getting the necessary result in order to progress to the next stage of the competition later today.

SEE ALSO — Listen to Janusz Michallik’s preview of today’s Europa League matches on World Soccer Talk Radio.

Head coach Unai Emery says his team is prepared for the task at hand and are aware of the threat posed by the Russian Premier League top club.

“We play to win every competition,” Emery said during his pre-match press conference. “The Europa League is very important for us. We don’t think about which tournament is more important, we think about winning the next match.

“Zenit are a very strong side with great players. They’re big, experienced team with a great coach. Criscito, Hulk and Danny are quality players. This will be a different game, we’re ready for it and we’ll try to answer Zenit with our trump cards.

“In the first half of the first leg Zenit were like a fortress, they played well defensively. I am really pleased we got back in the game in the second half.

“This is another match: there will be other players involved, Zenit need to score a goal, we also need to act differently and be ready for anything.

“We’re ready for the fans to put us under pressure. We know how to overcome this, it spurs us on.”

Programming note: Zenit St Petersburg vs. Sevilla will be shown LIVE today at 3:00pm EST on FOX Sports 1 and FoxSoccer2Go.

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. CTBlues

    April 23, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Zenit is going to be missing players today as well for card accumulation if I’m not mistaken.

    • Peter Quinn

      April 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      They are missing Garay and Ryazantsev because of suspension. But they got four back who were missing from the first leg and all will likely start (Hulk, Danny, Smolnikov and Criscito).

      Projected lineup: Lodygin; Smolnikov; Anyukov, Neto, Lombaerts, Criscito; Shatov, Javi Garcia, Witsel, Danny; Hulk

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