Sevilla try­ing to show it be­longs among the best in Europe

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Sevilla wants to show it is ready to reach the next level.

Af­ter three straight ti­tles in the Europa League, the Span­ish club is hop­ing to thrive among the best soccer teams on the con­ti­nent.

And the first step to­ward that goal may come Tues­day against Ju­ven­tus, when it can se­cure a spot in the knock­out round of the Cham­pi­ons League for the first time since 2010.

A draw against the Ital­ian cham­pi­ons at Ra­mon Sanchez-Pizjuan Sta­dium will be enough to get the club back in the de­ci­sive stages of Europe’s top com­pe­ti­tion, and a win will guar­an­tee first place in Group H.

Sevilla won five Europa League ti­tles in the last 11 sea­sons, but it has not suc­ceeded in the Cham­pi­ons League since mak­ing it to the round of 16 in the 2009-10 sea­son, when it was even­tu­ally elim­i­nated by CSKA Moscow. It also ad­vanced past the group stage in the 2007-08 sea­son, when it later lost to Fener­bahce in the last 16.

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli, hired this sea­son to try to turn the Span­ish club into a top con­tender in Europe, rested some of the team’s reg­u­lar starters in the 3-2 win at De­portivo La Coruna in the Span­ish league on Satur­day, when the team scored twice in the last five min­utes to erase a 2-0 deficit.

“This win, com­ing back from two goals against a dif­fi­cult op­po­nent, gives us a huge boost go­ing into Tues­day’s game,” Sampaoli said.

GROUP E

Harry Kane’s re­turn from in­jury might just be the cat­a­lyst that re­vives Spurs Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign.

The Eng­land striker, who was the Premier League’s top scorer last sea­son, has scored three goals in his first two matches back af­ter seven weeks out with an an­kle in­jury, and should lead Tot­ten­ham’s at­tack for what could be a must­win game at Monaco.

Tot­ten­ham has only four points from four games so far, and will be elim­i­nated if they fail to win in south­ern France and Bayer Lev­erkusen wins at CSKA Moscow.

Monaco leads the group by two points. If the French team wins, it will be as­sured of qual­i­fy­ing in first place if Lev­erkusen doesn’t win in Rus­sia.

GROUP F

Le­ices­ter gets a sec­ond chance to clinch qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the knock­out stage in its first Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign. This time, it comes at home.

The English cham­pi­ons host Club Brugge at King Power Sta­dium, need­ing only a draw to ad­vance. Le­ices­ter beat the Bel­gian team 3-0 in their first meet­ing in the group and is still un­beaten af­ter four games.

The sit­u­a­tion couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent in the Premier League, with Le­ices­ter only two points above the rel­e­ga­tion zone af­ter a tough start to its ti­tle de­fense.

“This sea­son I’m watch­ing be­hind me,” Le­ices­ter man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri said. “The rel­e­ga­tion is very close to us.”

Le­ices­ter is three points ahead of FC Porto, which vis­its third-place FC Copen­hagen in the group’s other game.

GROUP G

Still un­beaten this sea­son, de­fend­ing cham­pion Real Madrid needs a draw at Sport­ing Lis­bon to reach the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League for the 20th straight time.

The game marks a re­turn to Lis­bon for the first time since win­ning the 2014 tro­phy against Atletico Madrid at the Es­ta­dio da Luz.

Cris­tian Ron­aldo, again fac­ing the team in which he started his ca­reer, will have another chance to be­come the first player to score 100 goals in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tions. The Por­tuguese for­ward, com­ing off a hat trick in the Madrid derby in the Span­ish league, is two goals short of the mile­stone.

Borus­sia Dort­mund, boosted by a win over Bay­ern Mu­nich in the Ger­man league, can se­cure first place when it vis­its al­ready elim­i­nated Le­gia War­sow. It will be with­out goal­keeper Ro­man Buerki, who broke his hand in the match against Bay­ern.

Sport­ing needs to de­feat Madrid to stay alive.

GROUP H

A vic­tory at Sevilla will guar­an­tee Ju­ven­tus a spot in the next round, al­though it can also ad­vance if Lyon fails to win at Di­namo Za­greb.

The Ital­ian cham­pi­ons may be with­out for­ward Gonzalo Higuain, who re­ceived a knock on his left thigh in the win over Pescara this week­end. De­fender Medhi Be­na­tia is also a doubt be­cause of a knee in­jury.

Ju­ven­tus was held by Sevilla to a 0-0 home draw ear­lier this sea­son, and a loss to the Span­ish club in the group stage a year ago left the Ital­ians sec­ond in their group.

Sevilla has won seven of its last nine matches, with the only set­backs com­ing in a draw at Sport­ing Gi­jon and a home loss to Barcelona.

Sevilla’s Samir Nasri dur­ing train­ing yes­ter­day

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