28.09.2015 12:30 - in: UCL S

      Spotlight on Sevilla

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      The first club to qualify for the Champions League as Europa League winners, Wednesday night’s opponents Sevilla boast an impressive European pedigree, a talented manager and a squad with extensive big-game experience

      10 May 2006, Phillips Stadion, Eindhoven, approximately 22.20 CEST. 

      With just over ten minutes remaining at the Phillips Stadion in Eindhoven, Sevilla led Middlesborough 1-0 in the 2006 UEFA Cup final as both teams competed for their first European honours.

      Following excellent saves by long-serving goalkeeper Andres Palop first from Massimo Maccarone and then miraculously from Mark Viduka, and having dominated the game for vast periods, the Andalusians knew that this was finally going to be their night. They could be even surer of their convictions seconds later.

      Bursting forward on the counter-attack, 20-year old winger Jesus Navas crossed for Frederic Kanoute. With the ball loose in the penalty area following Mark Schwarzer’s point-blank save, one man was alive to the danger as former Juventus midfielder Enzo Maresca swept home to send the Sevilla fans into raptures.

      Two more goals would follow, another for Maresca and a fourth moments from time for Kanoute, to hand the Spanish club the trophy, kicking off a remarkable spell in the competition.

      Three European titles later, the reigning Europa League champions head to Turin to face Juventus for Matchday 2 of the 2015/16 Champions League. Ahead of Wednesday night’s clash between Group D’s early leaders, Juventus.com profiles the history, European pedigree and recent form of Unai Emery’s side.


      Although more recognisable internationally for its recent success on the continental stage, the Andalusian club has consistently been a key player of Spanish football, making 71 appearances in the country’s top-flight. 

      Following the club's founding in 1905 by a group of British sailors, the Hispalenses dominated locally, winning 16 of a possible 19 Andalusian regional championships between 1915 and 1932 before picking up their maiden piece of national silverware in 1935, overcoming CD Sabadell to lift the Copa Del Rey.

      Propelled by the goals of record scorer and Spanish international forward Juan Arza, the Blanquirrojos toasted their first and only La Liga title ten years later in 1945/46.

      In the intervening years, following sporadic spells in the Seguna Division in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Sevilla returned to the big time in 2000/01 where they have remained ever since, finishing in the top five in eight of the last ten seasons, scooping UEFA Cup and Europa League trophies in 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2015 on the way. 

      Juventus played Real Madrid at the Sanchez Pizjuan in a pre-season friendly in 2009

      In crossing the Mediterranean in December to round off their Group D campaign, the Bianconeri will become just the third Italian club after Parma and Fiorentina to play at the historic Estadio Roman Sanchez Pizjuan, now hosting its fifth season of Champions League football.

      Built in 1958, originally with a capacity of 75,000, the Sanchez Pizjuan has also become a venue of international repute, hosting the national side on 22 occasions as well as the the semi-final of the 1982 World Cup between France and West Germany.  


      A man famed for his meticulous preparation and attention to detail, Sevilla boss Unai Emery is widely considered as one of Europe’s brightest coaching talents.

      Hanging up his boots in 2005 following a playing career curtailed by injury, the charismatic Emery has enjoyed managerial success wherever he has been. 

      From small beginnings with Murcia-based outfit Lorca, whom he guided to Spain’s Segunda Division at the first time of asking, the Spaniard has gone on to enjoy fruitful spells in charge of UD Almeria, Valencia and now Sevilla, implementing a blueprint of attacking, aggressive and attractive football at all three.

      Masterminding back-to-back Europa League trophies in 2014 and 2015, becoming the only manager to win consecutive UEFA competitions in the process, the 43-year old will have his eye on transferring the Blanquirrojos’ impressive Europa League pedigree into progress from this season’s Champions League group stages, a feat achieved by the club on just two previous occasions. 

      How are they looking for Wednesday?

      Last weekend’s 3-2 win over Rayo Vallecano was Sevilla’s first in the league this season, following defeats against Atletico Madrid, Celta Vigo and Las Palmas in their opening five fixtures.

      The vibrant attacking display at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Saturday night was a reminder of the Andalusians’ qualities and a performance more characteristic of last season’s showings, where the Blanquirrojos tally of 71 goals was bettered only by Real Madrid (118) and Barcelona (110).

      Following the summer departures of Carlos Bacca and Aleix Vidal as well as Geoffrey Kondogbia, Ivan Rakitic and Federico Fazio in previous seasons, Emery’s squad building skills have been put to the test once more.

      If his side’s 3-0 triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach on Matchday 1 and August’s epic 5-4 defeat to Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup are anything to go by though, the coming campaign promises to be just as entertaining as the last for the Sevilla faithful.

      In a busy close-season of transfer activity, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Ciro Immobile, Gael Kakuta and of course Fernando Llorente have joined the club’s attacking ranks and when in form, boast the versatility and pace to threaten any defence.

      Wednesday could see the return of Fernando Llorente

      Further back, defenders Adil Rami, Marco Andreolli and midfielders Grzegorz Krychowiak and Steven N’Nonzi will provide the solidity and muscle to allow adventurous wing-backs Benoit Tremoulinas and Andujar Coke to roam forward.

      With both managers, Emery and Massimiliano Allegri, committed to attacking and expansive football and two sides keen to add to impressive opening day wins in the competition, Sevilla are sure to contribute to an exciting Wednesday night of action at Juventus Stadium. 

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