Madrid, April 27 (IANS) Two Spanish sides are in Europe League action on Thursday as Villarreal and Sevilla hope to force an all-Spanish final for the second time in four years.
Reigning Europa League champions, Sevilla, face a difficult first leg in their semifinal as they travel to the Ukraine to play Shakhtar Donetsk, reports Xinhua.
Unai Emery’s side reached the last four following a nail-biting penalty shoot out against Athletic Club Bilbao and have struggled all season with their away form.
Emery’s side are the only team in the five main European leagues who have failed to win a league game away from their Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, where they are virtually unbeatable and where they took a morale boosting win at home to neighbours, Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday.
Midfielder Ever Banega will return to the side after missing the second leg of the quarterfinal and Kevin Gameiro will be their main threat in attack.
Villarreal face an enthralling game at home to Liverpool, who qualified for the semis in miraculous style against Borussia Dortmund.
Liverpool fans will be in good spirits following the findings in the investigation into the Hillsborough tragedy, which ruled on Tuesday that the 96 people who died in that incident in 1989 were the victims of “unlawful killing”.
On the field their side will be without the injured Jordan Henderson and Mamadou Sakho, who is under investigation after a possible positive drugs test.
Villarreal meanwhile will look to the pace of striker Cedric Bakambu and the experienced Roberto Soldado to lead their attack with Spain international Bruno Soriano pulling the strings in midfield.