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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Europa League Final 2015- Dnipro v Sevilla (Wednesday 27th May 2015)

The defending Champions of the Europa League have managed to negotiate another tricky draw to return to the Final which is played in Warsaw on Wednesday evening, and Sevilla will be a big favourite to win the title and earn their place in the Champions League next season.

While Sevilla were always amongst the favourites to win the Europa League, their opponents have had something of a Cinderella story to reach the Final as Dnipro beat favoured opposition in each of the knock out stages of the competition. The Semi Final win over Napoli was arguably the biggest surprise as Dnipro showed off all of their defensive steel to beat the Italians 2-1 on aggregate.

The Europa League Final of recent years has been a really competitive contest and it will be interesting to see the attack of Sevilla versus the defence of Dnipro to see who comes out on top.

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
It had already been a special season for Dnipro in European football as they surpassed their club's previous best of a Quarter Final appearance before surprisingly knocking out Napoli to reach the Final of the Europa League in Warsaw. Not many would have picked Dnipro to reach the Final ahead of Napoli, while the club have won less than half of their games in this competition but still managed to reach the last stage.

This will be a familiar position for Dnipro as there won't be too many people outside of their locker room that feels they can win the Europa League against the defending Champions. That lack of confidence is likely to be underlined by the fact that Dnipro produced their winning performances at home and actually won just 1 of 8 games outside of the Ukraine in the Europa League.

Dnipro will be looking at this as a big chance for their team to earn a spot in the Champions League as they go into the final weekend of the Ukrainian season 2 points behind Shakhtar Donetsk for one of those positions. They did beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2 at home last weekend, but that was only their second win in their last 6 games in all competitions. Dnipro have won none of their last 3 away games in all competitions.

This is the final week of the season for Sevilla who began it with two chances to reach the Champions League next season- the first of those was extinguished in the Spanish top flight on Saturday despite Sevilla's 2-3 win at Malaga and now their only chance to get to eat at the main table in European football will be if they retain the Europa League they won on penalties last season.

The form in the Europa League certainly makes Sevilla the favourites to win on Wednesday in Warsaw as they won 8 of their last 9 ties in the competition. That included a comfortable 5-0 win over Fiorentina in the Semi Final and the experience of winning the Europa League last year could also play a big part in dealing with nerves and any doubts that the Sevilla players may feel.

Sevilla's form in the Europa League is one thing, but they have also only lost 1 of their last 21 games in all competitions and go into the Final having won 4 of their last 5 games since that defeat to Real Madrid at home. They are not afraid of playing away from home either as Sevilla have won 3 of their last 4 away games in all competitions and are unbeaten in 11 games on their travels.

Winning a big European trophy will obviously create some tension, but adding the Champions League as a prize for the winner might only make this more of a nervy Final than usual. The Europa League Final has been closely fought in recent years and this has all the makings of another closely run contest between two teams that perhaps like to play their football in different ways.

Dnipro have ground their way through to the Final even though they have won less than half of their Europa League games. They have looked to sit on a solid foundation which makes them hard to beat, but they also have some players capable of producing a moment of magic at the other end of the field which has led to a number of 1-0 wins at home.

On the other hand, Sevilla will look to play some attacking football and keep their opponent on the back foot so the styles should gel. Sevilla will be feeling the pressure having failed to finish in the top four in Spain last weekend and being the favourites means the expectation is greater than even last year when they faced Benfica who were considered more on the same level as the Spanish side.

This time most will believe Sevilla are clearly the better team and that expectation can force mistakes or nerves to play a real part in the Final. You would think Sevilla will be tough to pull back if they score first as a chasing Dnipro side could be caught on the counter-attack.

Then again, a first goal for Dnipro would mean the Ukrainian team can sit back and constrict the space that Sevilla will want to thrive upon.

These attack versus defence games can be intriguing to watch, but the tension will only increase as the game goes on if we don't get to see an early goal. The Europa League Finals have seen 3 of the last 6 go into extra time including last season when Sevilla needed penalties to see off Benfica. If you consider the Chelsea Europa League Final win in 2013 also came courtesy of a 93rd minute winner for the Blues, you can appreciate that these Finals tend to be very close.

I can see this one going along the same lines as Sevilla try to produce something magical to win the game- both teams might just play a little more cautious if this one is level with twenty minutes to go and it might take time to break down the other. I think Sevilla are the more likely winners, but they might have to wear down Dnipro over 120 minutes and wait for the victory for the second season in a row.

Backing the Spanish club to win this one in extra time looks a big price and worthy of a small interest.

MY EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL PICK: Sevilla Win in Extra Time @ 9.00 William Hill (1 Unit)

May Update10-18, - 11.46 Units (52 Units Staked, - 22.04% Yield)

April Final18-27-1, - 14.29 Units (83 Units Staked, - 17.22% Yield)
March Final30-18, + 30.66 Units (88 Units Staked, + 34.84% Yield)
February Final20-24-2, + 3.19 Units (75 Units Staked, + 4.25% Yield)
January Final10-22-1, - 10.54 Units (57 Units Staked, - 18.49% Yield)
December Final25-19-1, + 18.70 Units (81 Units Staked, + 23.09% Yield)
November Final17-21, - 0.59 Units (69 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
October Final8-18, - 14.79 Units (47 Units Staked, - 31.47% Yield)
September Final12-18, - 2.28 Units (41 Units Staked, - 5.56% Yield)
August Final8-22, - 19.92 Units (51 Units Staked, - 39.06% Yield)

Season 2014/15148-189-5, - 9.86 Units (592 Units Staked, - 1.67% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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