Semifinals 1st Leg - The Europa Spanish Armada
By Joe, bettingexpert.com | Published
Google+: Joe Bexpert
Confusion between the two Spanish sides that will meet on Thursday in the Europa League. both Atletico Madrid and Valencia are in a need to pick up some silverware while Sporting Lisbon and Athletic Bilbao completes the other half of the semifinal.
Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia
The all Spanish tie in the semi-finals and both teams will be happy that they won’t be needing to travel far to find a winner. The capital club will host Valenica at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid with a 21:05 BST kickoff time. Mid-table Atletico Madrid is certainly struggling to get themselves back into the European scene next season unless they end up winning the Europa League. They don’t look qualifying in the league and their league form doesn’t look any better going into this tie. They have a player that can do the job, former Porto striker Radamel Falcao who has already hit 26 goals in the La Liga and placed second in the Europa League with 8 goals. This is a top man that could shoot Atletico Madrid into the final. During writing of this article, it is unknown of the result between Rayo Vallecano and Atletico Madrid, however a defeat for the away team is unlikely to happen. Koke could start on Thursday for the home team.
Valencia is the dominate team of the two this season and by that I mean, the away side have played Atletico Madrid twice this season in the league and they can call themselves undefeated. They managed to get 0-0 draw back in February while a Roberto Soldado winner saw Valencia beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 at home in the second day of the La Liga. Another factor is that the port side town is placed third in the league and so securing champions league football will be a priority. The weekend saw a bit more misery for Valenica as their 4-0 defeat to Espanyol set them back in their form, but they maintain the third spot in the league. Coach Unai Emery is likely to see Saldado returning to the starting line up against Atletico Madrid.
These two teams met back also in 2010 quartefinals in the Europa League, the first leg in Madrid finished 2-2 while Atletico Madrid went through with the away goals rule after getting a 0-0 result in Valencia. Things haven’t changed much either since then, both teams played out a draw in the league this season so it’s safe to say that the first leg will end in a draw as both teams will be a bit cautious.
Sporting Lisbon vs. Athletic Bilbao
The only non-Spanish side left that is within a chance and to be part of the mix in going for the Europa League silverware. Their last competitive match was in a narrow 1-0 win over Benfica last midweek and takes on Athletic Bilbao with a full bill of health and also being rested. The Portuguese side have only met their Spanish counterpart once back in 1985/86 and Sporting was victorious in the old Uefa Cup. Looking a bit more in the statistic during modern times, Sporting are unbeaten in 11 home games in Europe and that should give a good indication that Sporting are unlikely to lose ground in Lisbon.
Athletic Bilbao are turning out to be a fine side in Europe. They have stunned football by it’s right by knocking out Manchester United and also Hannover 96 in the quarterfinals. What remains in their conquest is a Portuguese team next on their agenda. Their proflic striker, Fernado Llorente, with six goals, is providing the firepower and the leadership that the team have enjoyed. His presence will be an importance on Thursday and if he can bring the same kind of performance in the 1-0 home win Mallorca, then that would be also welcoming. Bilbao
One year and the reverse affect can be seen, in the Europa 2010/2011 edition, there were three Portuguese teams and one Spanish side that made it into the semi-final. This time around, it’s been reversed, only Sporting can prevent an all Spanish final. Athletic Bilbao are dangerous on their away travels so a draw cannot be underestimate here.
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