With the dust now settled on the Champions League semi-final first legs, all attention turns to Europe’s second competition.
The Europa League semi-final match-ups are two intriguing ties with potential upsets on the cards.
Arsenal vs Valencia
Arsenal head into their clash against Valencia in questionable form. Unai Emery’s men have won six of their last ten matches in all competitions but are currently on a three-game losing streak having lost to Crystal Palace, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City.
With a top four finish not in their hands, due to Arsenal sitting in fifth with just two games to play and two points adrift of Chelsea, Emery may opt to make the Europa League the focal point of what is left of the 2018/19 campaign.
The Gunners have been consistent in Europe this term, losing only twice in the 12 matches they’ve played. They’ve won nine times, including professional victories over Napoli in both the home and the away ties. When Emery gets it right, they are one of the more difficult teams to beat and look dangerous on the break with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. The perfect cup team perhaps?
Valencia, like Arsenal, head into this match having won six of their last ten games in all competitions. However, they are on a two-match losing streak after losses to Atletico Madrid and Eibar in recent weeks and this has halted their climb up the La Liga table.
In many ways they’re in a similar boat to their hosts in the sense a Europa League triumph may be their best route back into the Champions League, a competition they played in earlier on in the season.
After dropping out of Europe’s premier club competition, Valencia have won five of the six matches they’ve played in Europe and are yet to taste defeat in the Europa League. Marcelino’s men aren’t rampant going forward, averaging 1.83 goals per game, but their impressive form is built on how defensively resilient they are.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Chelsea
A pattern is emerging with the teams left in the Europa League. Eintracht Frankfurt have also won six of their last ten games, with form trailing off towards the end of this period. They’ve drawn their last two matches and suffered a 3-1 defeat to Augsburg prior to their second leg comeback victory over Benfica.
Adi Hutter’s men have been extremely consistent in the Europa League, losing just once all season. That defeat came at the hands of a rampant Benfica side in Portugal but two away goals gave the Bundesliga side a platform to use to overcome Joao Felix and friends to progress.
They’ve won nine of their 12 matches, including victories over Lazio, Marseille, Shakhtar and Benfica to reach this stage of the competition. And with Luka Jovic, the hottest young striker in world football today, leading the line, you wouldn’t bet against them scoring in both legs against Chelsea. Only Inter Milan have managed to keep a clean sheet against Frankfurt this season in Europe.
Yep, you guessed it, Chelsea complete the set having won six of the last ten matches in all competitions. And like the other three, their form has taken a bit of a hit recently, with Maurizio Sarri’s men heading into this game off the back of two draws.
They currently hold fourth spot in the Premier League but that position is far from assured. A Europa League triumph guarantees Champions League football returns to Stamford Bridge. And Sarri will have his eyes fixed firmly on the prize.
In Europe, they’ve been close to perfect having won 11 of their 12 ties. Their only blemish was a 2-2 draw against Vidi.
The highest scoring team left in the competition, you can guarantee goals in this tie in both legs.
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