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Europa League Draw 2014: Fixtures and Dates for Semi-Finals Released

MONACO - AUGUST 30:  The UEFA Europa League trophy is displayed prior to the UEFA Europa League group stage 2013/14 draw on August 30, 2013 in Monaco, Monaco.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images
Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2014

While it may be looked upon as Europe's second-highest honour, Friday's announcement of this season's Europa League semi-finals has thrown up two clashes of Champions League quality.

Having originally started with 48 teams in the group stage, the field has been whittled down to just four of the continent's most worthy hopefuls.

Among that number sit Juventus—hoping to claim a berth as host finalists in Turin—our two remaining Spanish outfits Sevilla and Valencia and last season's runners-up, Benfica.

2013-14 Europa League Semi-Final Fixtures
1st Leg Hostsvs.2nd Leg Hosts
Sevillavs.Valencia
Benficavs.Juventus
UEFA.com

The semi-finals will kick off in just under a fortnight's time, with the first legs played on Thursday, April 24 and the return fixtures coming seven days later on May 1.

The winner of the first semi-final between Sevilla and Valencia will be the "home team" for this season's final, held at the Juventus Stadium on May 14.

 

Semi-Final 1 

Sevilla vs. Valencia

Miguel Angel Morenatti

Spanish fans will have been hoping to save this fixture for an almighty climax to the competition, but only one La Liga team will now make it to the final of this season's Europa League.

Sevilla and Valencia were drawn against one another for the first semi-final, which neutrals will be hoping is more entertaining than the 0-0 stalemate seen out at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium in February.

As the BBC's Andy Brassell points out, the fixture has a touch of fate about it, considering it was a 4-3 loss in Seville last season that ended Los Che's hopes of making it into Europe's elite competition:

WhoScored compare two of the individuals likely to have a particularly big impact on the fixture for their respective outfits:

According to Statto.com, four of the last five league meetings between these two Spanish rivals has produced two goals or more, with Sevilla having not lost at home to these particular opponents since 2004.

 

Semi-Final 2 

Benfica vs. Juventus

Massimo Pinca

Pairing what one could well argue to be the best two teams left in the competition against one another, the two hosts of this year's European tournament finals, Benfica and Juventus, will meet at the penultimate Europa League hurdle.

While the Champions League final will be staged in Lisbon, Juve will be hoping to move past a massive hurdle and claim their place in front of a Turin crowd for May's curtain call.

Antonio Conte can perhaps be pleased about the omen of drawing such strong opposition, however, as is shown by Infostrada Sports:

WhoScored again pick out a head-to-head of key faces between the two clubs:

It's very likely that the winner of this semi-final will be looked upon as the favourite to go on and win the whole contest, in what promises to be a thorough examination for whomever might emerge as victor.

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