Everything that you need to know ahead of Sunday’s match:
(1) Manchester United came through the 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen with the entire traveling squad fit as a fiddle. As such, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty of options for Sunday’s Europa League semifinal — including at the very back. This season, the United boss has twice replaced Sergio Romero with David de Gea in goal as soon as the club reached this stage of a competition. Will it be third time (un)lucky for Romero on Sunday?
(2) The Reds might look a little different this weekend. Sevilla inadvertently leaked that Manchester United will suit up in their as-yet-unrevealed new Adidas away kit. Let’s hope the new shirt gets off to a winning start.
(3) Which side holds the rest advantage for this Europa League semifinal? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Manchester United played their quarterfinal a day earlier than Sevilla, but also needed extra time to see off the dogged Danes. Victor Lindelöf, though, likes United’s position:
An extra day is always a positive thing. That extra day of rest... in the last minutes of a game, that can be the difference.
(4) Sevilla are red hot. The Spanish club last lost in early February and bring a nineteen-match unbeaten streak into Sunday’s semifinal. Since June 30, they’ve won seven of eight in all competitions — and only allowed one goal in that stretch. This strong finish saw Sevilla finish fourth in La Liga, behind Atletico Madrid on just goal differential.
(5) Manager Julen Lopetegui uses a 4-3-3 formation with lots of possession and short passes. Sevilla move the ball quickly, looking to overload defenders on one side before delivering a killer cross into the box. This isn’t a group that tears through opposition defenses, but rather pulls defenders out of position with smart passing. Cagey.
(6) Against Wolves, Sevilla held 76% possession and took three times as many shots as their British opponents. Still, the Spaniards left it until late to score the match’s only goal. Ever Banega — who terrorized Manchester United two years ago — found the head of Lucas Ocampos in the 88th minute and the Argentine winger made no mistake from close range.
Sevilla completed 73 final third passes in the first half vs. Wolves, Wolves completed just 12.— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 11, 2020
The Spanish side have dominated possession and territory so far. pic.twitter.com/rMFbaDVvGV
(7) Manchester United advanced in similarly unimpressive fashion. Copenhagen’s goalkeeper deserves a lot of credit for keeping his side in the match, but the Reds should not need extra time to defeat such overmatched opponents. Whether it was down to complacency or bad luck, United must be better against Sevilla.
(8) After all, Sevilla are basically Europa League royalty. They won this competition three straight times from 2014-2016 — becoming the first club to win it five total times — although that was under former manager Unai Emery. An ominous note: Every time that Sevilla has reached the semifinals of the Europa League, they won the whole thing.
(9) The bulk of Sevilla’s attack comes from the wings. Suso and Ocampos both operate as inverted wingers, preferring to cut inside on their favored foot at every opportunity. Lopetegui maintains width in his side by encouraging his fullbacks (Jesus Navas and loanee Sergio Reguilon) to play almost like wing backs, bombing forward and joining in attacks.
(10) With both fullbacks often far up the pitch, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sevilla struggle defensively. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Hard work from the midfield — and leading scorer Ocampos’s willingness to track back and pitch in defensively — has allowed the Spanish club to keep clean sheets in seven of its last eight matches.
(11) Lopetegui on Manchester United:
We are going to play against Manchester United in the next match — they’re the biggest team in the world, but we’re going to be prepared for them. We’re focused on the next game, against a top, historic side. One of the best in the history of the sport, who are in great form. We will give our best as we always do. To play against them will be really tough, but we’ll go into it believing we can beat them.