Europa League Roundup: Who will claim the title of Europe's second best team?

The race for the title in Europe's second most interesting tournament is well underway!

Mitchell Hall
9th May 2023
Image: Twitter @UnionStGilloise
With several rounds of Europe's second biggest international competition behind us, who is best set to win the Europa League title in Prague?
Roma vs Feyenoord

Jose Mourinho’s Roma faced a one goal deficit heading into their second leg against dutch club Feyenoord, a somewhat daunting situation considering their emphatic unseating of Ajax as the premier of dutch talent this season. The special one found himself in turbulent waters inside the 90 of regular time, equalising on aggregate in the 60th minute only to go down again in the 80th to a Paixao header. Roma talisman Paulo Dybala clawed the Italians back into contention with a typically sublime touch and finish, pushing the tie to extra time. Mourinho’s side had weathered the worst of the storm by now however, and they showed their class through an El Shaarawy tap in and an emphatic Pellegrini rebound, putting them two to the good on aggregate and seeing them through to the next round.

Union Saint-Gilloise vs Bayer Leverkusen

The same 4-1 scoreline graced the Union Saint-Gilloise VS Leverkusen game, seeing the German side comfortably secure their spot in the next round. Young star Moussa Diaby, who has emerged this season as one of football's most electric prospects, opened the scoring inside the second minute, darting onto a ball through the middle of the defence and rounding the keeper, finishing smoothly from a tight angle. Their second goal demonstrated much of what manager Xabi Alonso has instilled in this resurgent side, a gorgeous team move with Diaby orchestrating saw the ball worked out wide to Adam Hlozek, who picked out a free Mitchel Bakker at the back post, guiding the ball underneath the diving keeper. Things would only get worse for the keeper, who, under pressure, passed the ball straight to Jeremie Frimpong who made no mistake with his first tie finish, pushing the tie to 3-0 on the day and 4-1 on aggregate. Saint-Gilloise proved they weren’t toothless either with a deflected Terho shot bringing them within two, but the opportunistic Hlozek shut down any chance of a fairy tale ending with a ruthless finish from a rebound. Leverkusen is filled with young talent and will surely be a side to keep an eye on in the Semis.

Sevilla vs Manchester United

Manchester United travelled to Seville all square after two late own goals brought the Spanish side back from the brink at Old Trafford. It took just 8 minutes for that deadlock to be broken, De Gea passing the ball into Maguire and the waiting Sevilla press. They punched on the United defender, Lamela coming away with the ball and passing to En-Nesyri who finished past a helpless De Gea. United saw their blushes saved by VAR, which ruled out an Ocampos goal due to Acuna being offside in the build up. They were safe for the half-time break and two minutes of game time afterwards, before Bade got his head to a corner in the 47th and gave Sevilla a two goal cushion. Try as they might, the reds couldn’t seem to establish a foothold in the game, Sevilla dominating them all over the pitch. Now was a time for composure under extreme pressure for the United side, a fact which appeared to slip De Gea’s mind as he rushed out of his box and fluffed a clearance completely under little pressure, the alert En-Nesyri punishing him from distance into a vacant goal. And so continues Manchester United’s abysmal record against the so called kings of the Europa League, they remain a significant threat to their next opponents.

Sporting CP vs Juventus

Italian titans Juventus took a one goal lead with them to Sporting’s Estadio Jose Alvalade, but were keen to extend it when the opportunity fell to Adrien Rabiot in the ninth minute. A scramble from a corner that Sporting couldn’t quite clear saw it fall fortuitously on the volley for the Frenchman, making it 2-0 on aggregate. Perhaps keen to undo this sudden goodwill the controversial midfielder had found, he fouled Ugarte in his own box and gave Sporting a penalty shaped lifeline, coolly dispatched by English youth star Marcus Edwards. Sporting needed one more and produced a relentless assault on Juve’s back line. Diomande and Esgaio came tantalisingly close before Sporting captain Coates squandered a golden opportunity from inside the six yard box, volleying over an open goal after more Edwards magic. The ball was maybe at an awkward height for a volley but it will regardless be a moment Coates doesn’t soon forget. Nor will he forget his miss just minutes later, Edwards darting across the edge of the box and laying it off for a back post cross, Coates has only the goalie to beat from about 3 yards but he can only divert his shot across goal. Where perhaps there should have been a Sporting shirt ready to pounce there were only Juventus defenders, grateful to get away unscathed. The score line was harsh on the Portuguese side, and especially seemed cruel in the face of a world class performance from Marcus Edwards.

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