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Emery hails brave Sevilla

Emery hails brave Sevilla

Sevilla coach Unai Emery praised his team for overcoming 'tiredness and discomfort' to win the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday.

The La Liga side claimed a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Benfica in the final, which finished 0-0 after 120 minutes at the Juventus Stadium.

Benfica had enjoyed the better of the opportunities throughout the encounter but two saves in the shootout from Sevilla goalkeeper Beto were the difference.

Emery hailed his side for being prepared to work and fight late in the contest.

"Benfica have been deserving finalists, as we have," he said.

"There were times when the the match was very even. We were expecting some chances, like the one for (Carlos) Bacca, but we had to be prepared for anything. In the end they made the last push.

"You could see the tiredness and discomfort of the players but this team has learned how to suffer, has learned to stay big and was prepared for this."

Beto kept out Benfica's second and third spot-kicks, albeit coming a fair distance off his line to deny Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo.

Emery praised the goalkeeper and goalkeeping coach Javier Garcia Garcia.

"Javi has done a great job with the goalkeepers and with Beto has been crucial," Emery said.

"It's the work of a lot of people."


Fiorentina v Juventus - UEFA Europa League Preview

UEFA Europa League Preview: Fiorentina v Juventus

This week's clash will conclude a hat-trick of meetings between the sides in less than a fortnight, with Juventus taking the spoils in the opening Serie A encounter before a 1-1 draw in Turin last Thursday put Fiorentina in the driving seat in the continental tie.

Arturo Vidal handed Juve the lead in the third minute of the first-leg clash, but Mario Gomez found the net 11 minutes from time to give Fiorentina the away-goal advantage.

However, promisingly for coach Antonio Conte, Juve have only failed to progress once when taking a 1-1 scoreline into the second leg of a European tie.

The only time they did fail to make it through was in 1972, when a 2-1 second-leg defeat at Wolves - now competing in England's third tier - sent them out of the UEFA Cup, but they have never beaten Italian opposition away from home in European competition.

And the Turin outfit will be especially keen to make it through this season, with Juventus Stadium set to host the competition's final.

Conte's men sit top of Serie A and are on an 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions, but lost 4-2 when they played at Stadio Artemio Franchi in the league earlier this season - a result that remains Juve's only top-flight defeat of the campaign.

Fiorentina, meanwhile, brought an end to a five-match winless run with a 3-1 home victory against Chievo on Sunday, and goalkeeper Neto insists his side do not fear their familiar opponents.

"When there are games of this type in Florence the atmosphere is incredible, it's always like that," he told Sky Sport 24. "We have no fear, there are two teams of a high level going up against each other.

"They have a lot of champions, but so do we.

"(Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi) Buffon is of the highest calibre, it is an honour to play against him."

Andrea Barzagli (calf) is a doubt for Juve after pulling out of Sunday's 1-0 win at Genoa, while fellow defender Federico Peluso (thigh) is also likely to miss out. In more positive news, striker Carlos Tevez has returned to training this week and could be in line for a start.

Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi (knee) is expected to be in attendance in a spectating capacity on Thursday, having returned to Italy from the United States as he continues his rehabilitation from ligament damage.


Benfica v Tottenham - UEFA Europa League Preview

UEFA Europa League Preview: Benfica v Tottenham

Spurs head coach Sherwood has come under fire following three successive high-profile defeats in the past fortnight, including a 3-1 reverse to Jorge Jesus' Primeira Liga leaders in the first leg of their last-16 tie at White Hart Lane last Thursday.

That setback was sandwiched with a 4-0 rout at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before Tottenham suffered north London derby heartbreak in a 1-0 home loss to rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Sherwood will now seek solace in this week's second leg, but the visitors face what appears a near impossible task in overturning the deficit at Estadio da Luz.

Benfica are unbeaten in 10 European home games, their last loss coming in a 2-0 setback to Barcelona in 2012 in the UEFA Champions League group stages. The Portuguese team have also yet to taste defeat on home soil in the UEFA Europa League in 16 outings since the competition replaced the previous UEFA Cup format in 2009.

The fixture will carry extra spice from the first leg after Sherwood accused opposite number Jesus of showing "a lack of class", when he appeared to signal the number of goals his side had scored when he held three fingers aloft.

Despite the difficulty of the task and Tottenham's recent setbacks suggesting otherwise, winger Andros Townsend is confident of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Speaking to the club's official website, he said: "It's another big game on Thursday. There is still a lot to play for.

"We've got nothing to lose. We're two goals behind from the home leg, so we can go there, have a go and see what happens."

In contrast to Tottenham's woes, Benfica have been seemingly unstoppable and have not tasted defeat in any competition since a 1-0 loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League at the start of November.

Only once have Benfica been beaten in the Primeira Liga this season and their march towards the title shows no signs of stopping, with second-placed Sporting Lisbon seven points adrift.

Both sides have a centre-back suspended, with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen and Benfica's Silvio the players to miss out.


Europa League: Tottenham v Benfica

Tim Sherwood

Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood expects a response when his side host Benfica in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-16 tie.

Sherwood was cutting in his assessment of his players after they were taken apart by Chelsea in Saturday's 4-0 Premier League thumping.

Individual errors directly contributed to all four of the home side's goals and, following the dismal showing at Stamford Bridge, Sherwood accused his players of lacking "character".

Tottenham will at least have the chance to consign that result to history when they return to European action on Thursday, and Sherwood has demanded that his squad make amends.

"The fans were magnificent (on Saturday) and the lads owe it to them and owe it to themselves (to respond)," he told the club's official website.

"They have to take it on the chin, as we all have."

Defeat against Chelsea was a blow to Tottenham's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season, with Sherwood's men now four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City having played three games more.

The focus of their campaign increasingly now looks to be on an extended run in the Europa League, but they will have their work cut out against a Benfica side who reached last year's final, before being beaten 2-1 by Chelsea thanks to Branislav Ivanovic's stoppage-time header.

Sherwood can take heart from Tottenham's strong home record in the competition - they have won their last five European matches at White Hart Lane, triumphing in nine and drawing two of their past 11 since a 2-1 reverse at the hands of PAOK in the group stages back in 2011.

They produced a stirring comeback in the last round, coming from 2-0 down in the tie to eventually overcome Dnipro 3-2 thanks to a brace from Emmanuel Adebayor and a Christian Eriksen strike.

They next host a Benfica side who exited the Champions League due to an inferior head-to-head record with Olympiacos, but Jorge Jesus' men put that setback behind them with a comfortable 4-0 aggregate win over PAOK in the round of 32.

Lima scored twice over the course of the tie, and Tottenham will be wary of the threat posed by both him and Rodrigo, who have 24 goals between them in all competitions this season.

Oscar Cardozo, who has nine goals to his name despite missing a large chunk of the season with a back injury, is believed to be in the frame to play a part and will also pose a danger.

The Primeira Liga leaders come into the game on an incredible run of form, having won 21 and drawn two of their previous 23 matches in all competitions. They have not conceded for eight games, since a 1-1 draw with Gil Vicente on February 1.

Central defender Michael Dawson is a doubt for Tottenham after being withdrawn on Saturday with a hamstring injury, while for Benfica, Jardel has not played since a nasty clash of heads with team-mate Enzo Perez against Vitoria Guimaraes last month.


Europa League: Juventus v Fiorentina

Vincenzo Montella

Fiorentina will be out for revenge when they face Juventus for the second time in a week in Thursday's UEFA Europa League last-16 first leg.

Vincenzo Montella’s charges visited the impregnable Juventus Stadium in Serie A on Sunday and, like many before them this season, fell to defeat with Kwadwo Asamoah’s 42nd-minute winner proving enough to seal a 1-0 win for the hosts.

They travel to Turin for the second time in five days on Thursday for the first leg of their all-Italian clash hoping to upset the form books and become the first side to win at the home of the reigning Serie A champions since Bayern Munich in the Champions League on April 10.

Juve have won 12 consecutive home games in all competitions, and have a perfect record in the league with 14 wins out of 14.

However, Fiorentina can take heart from the fact they are the only side to have beaten Antonio Conte’s men in the league this season, Giuseppe Rossi’s hat-trick seeing them come from 2-0 down with 25 minutes to play to win 4-2 in an incredible game at the Stadio Artemio Franchi back in October.

They will have to make do without their chief goalscorer on Thursday however, the 27-year-old still not having recovered from injuring knee ligaments in early January.

Montella’s side made it through to this stage in comfortable fashion, claiming a 3-1 win in the first leg in Denmark against Esbjerg before securing their passage with a 1-1 draw in Italy.

Their opponents were even more assured in their progression, winning 2-0 in both legs against Turkey’s Trabzonspor to secure a 4-0 aggregate success.

Pablo Daniel Osvaldo scored in both legs of that tie, his first goals since arriving on loan from Southampton. Osvaldo was in the last Fiorentina side to win at Juventus back in March 2008, scoring a last-minute header in a 3-2 success, before being sent off for removing his shirt in celebration.

Defender Giorgio Chiellini, whose appearance in Sunday’s game was his first for over a month after a calf problem, is hoping his side can overcome their opponents and set up another all-Italian clash in the final.

"We have belief, and we’ll go for it right until the very end," he told the club's official website.

"I think everyone's dream is for us to face Napoli in the final, because two Italian sides reaching that stage would be a point of pride for everyone."

Montella, meanwhile, says his side will have to up their performance levels if they are to upset Juve's momentum.

"Obviously I'd have preferred to play another team in Europe but as I said it's motivating for us," he said.

"We'll have to dig deep and perhaps even raise our game. We have to go about it with character and confidence because if we want to have higher ambitions than fourth or fifth, we must show it on the pitch."


Europa League: Napoli v Swansea City

Swansea City visit Napoli with renewed confidence after the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-32 tie ended in a goalless draw.

Garry Monk's men turned in one of their best performances of the season last Thursday to give themselves a fighting chance heading to the Stadio San Paolo.

Indeed, the only thing missing from the Welsh side's display was a goal - something they will be looking to rectify in Italy.

Somewhat frustratingly for Monk, after watching his side fail to score against Napoli in a match they could have won, he then saw Swansea put three past Liverpool on Sunday, but to no avail as the Anfield club recorded a 4-3 win in the Premier League.

Napoli - third in Serie A - might have some concerns about their form, having followed up the draw in south Wales with a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa in the Italian top flight.

Rafael Benitez's side have four wins from their last 10 fixtures, but the Spaniard insists their continued involvement in three competitions is not having an adverse effect.

"It is not a physical issue at all," he said. " The team is good and all staff are involved in both the championship and Coppa Italia - the players know they have to distribute energy.

"Swansea played a great game against Liverpool in the weekend’s Premier League fixtures, despite losing a very close contest.

"They could make things very difficult. We must be prepared to go the distance."

Swansea will be looking to make it into the last 16 for the first time in their history, while Napoli lost out to Viktoria Plzen at this stage last year, suffering a 5-0 aggregate defeat.

Napoli are likely to have Pepe Reina in goal after Rafael picked up a knee injury in the first leg.

Swansea could hand a start to Jonjo Shelvey, who made a goalscoring Premier League return from a hamstring injury against his former club at the weekend.

However, doubts remain over the fitness of attacker Michu, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury since December.

In Michu's absence, Wilfried Bony has shouldered greater responsibility for Swansea and the Dutch forward heads to Italy in form, having scored twice at Liverpool to take his tally for the season to 19 in all competitions.


Europa League: Tottenham H. vs Dnipro D.

Juande Ramos returns to Tottenham with a point to prove on Thursday, but faces a big ask to oust his old club from the UEFA Europa League.

It was the Dnipro head coach who masterminded Tottenham's last trophy triumph as he won the League Cup in February 2008.

Eight months later, however, the Spaniard was sacked with the London club bottom of the Premier League and Ramos now heads back to his former stomping ground bidding to protect a 1-0 lead following the first leg of the last-16 tie between the two sides last week.

The odds appear to be stacked against Dnipro – fourth in the Ukrainian Premier League – reaching the quarter-finals given Tottenham's formidable home record in the competition.

Tottenham have suffered just one defeat in their last 18 Europa League ties at White Hart Lane, winning 12 of those matches, including the last four in a row this season.

Tim Sherwood, Ramos' counterpart, is also expected to name a much stronger starting XI than the one he deployed in Ukraine last Thursday, when the notable absentee was Emmanuel Adebayor, who has scored five goals in his last six games.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and winger Aaron Lennon sat out the game as well, but the trio all returned to Premier League action at the weekend to suggest they will be involved this time around.

In addition, Sherwood will expect his side to be more ruthless in attack as Roberto Soldado was guilty of a poor miss in the first leg before Yevhen Konoplyanka netted the only goal from the penalty spot.

"We will score at the Lane, guaranteed," stated a confident Sherwood when asked for his views on the return encounter.

Perhaps some of Sherwood's optimism stems from the fact that the playing conditions will suit Tottenham this time around.

A major talking point from the first leg was the state of the Dnipro Arena's pitch, which Sherwood labelled a "disgrace" after seeing the ball bobble badly on an uneven surface.

The two sets of players will experience no such problems on Thursday, although Tottenham could be short on confidence following Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Norwich City.

Midfielder Etienne Capoue sustained a leg injury during the loss at Carrow Road that makes him a doubt.

Dnipro, meanwhile, should feel fresh as Ramos' men had a free weekend due to the fact that the Ukrainian Premier League is still on its mid-season break.

Either PAOK or Benfica await the winners in the next round.

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Emery hails brave Sevilla
Emery hails brave Sevilla

Sevilla coach Unai Emery praised his team for overcoming 'tiredness and discom [ ... ]

Fiorentina v Juventus - UEFA Europa Leag...
Fiorentina v Juventus - UEFA Europa League Preview

This week's clash will conclude a hat-trick of meetings between the sides in l [ ... ]

Benfica v Tottenham - UEFA Europa League...
Benfica v Tottenham - UEFA Europa League Preview

Spurs head coach Sherwood has come under fire following three successive high- [ ... ]

Europa League: Tottenham v Benfica
Europa League: Tottenham v Benfica

Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood expects a response when his side host Benfica in t [ ... ]

Europa League: Juventus v Fiorentina
Europa League: Juventus v Fiorentina

Fiorentina will be out for revenge when they face Juventus for the second time [ ... ]

Europa League: Napoli v Swansea City
Europa League: Napoli v Swansea City

Swansea City visit Napoli with renewed confidence after the first leg of their [ ... ]

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