Europa League 2014: Semi-Final Predictions Following Fixtures Reveal

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Europa League 2014: Semi-Final Predictions Following Fixtures Reveal
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Just four teams remain in this year's Europa League with each of them hoping to make it through to May's final in Turin to fight it out for European glory.

The draw for the semi-finals took place on Friday in Nyon in Switzerland, and UEFA's Europa League Twitter feed posted the outcome:

With many people's favourites Juventus taking on last year's beaten finalists Benfica and an all-Spanish affair in the other semi-final, there is the potential for some fascinating encounters.

Read on for a prediction of each fixture as well as a preview of both semi-finals ahead of the first leg encounters, which get under way on April 24.

2013-14 Europa League Semi-Final Predictions
Fixture 1st Leg Prediction 2nd Leg Prediction Aggregate Prediction
Benfica vs. Juventus 1-1 Draw 2-0 Juventus 3-1 Juventus
Sevilla vs. Valencia 3-0 Sevilla 2-2 Draw 5-2 Sevilla

Benfica vs. Juventus

Francisco Seco

Both of these sides have pretty convincing leads at the top of their respective leagues, showing the quality of this particular tie.

Juve are eight points clear at the top of Serie A, and Benfica head the Portuguese Liga table by seven points.

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Both were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage and have made relatively easy progress through to the last four of Europe's secondary club competition.

Benfica saw off AZ Alkmaar 3-0 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, while Juventus came through 3-1 against Lyon

The Turin outfit have won this competition three times: in 1977, 1990 and 1993, per BBC Sport, while Benfica came close last season but lost 2-1 to Chelsea in the final.

Many make Antonio Conte's side favourites to win the competition, including football writer Paul Fisher: 

Having only conceded two goals in six games so far in the tournament, they look to have the ability to limit Benfica, which have yet to face a truly strong defence.

With the likes of Andrea Pirlo in the side, who scored a sublime free-kick on Thursday against Lyon, as shown below, only a brave man would bet against the Old Lady getting past Benfica and to a final on their home turf. 

Prediction: Juventus advance with a 3-1 aggregate win.

Sevilla vs. Valencia

Alberto Saiz

Spain are guaranteed a representative in this year's Europa League final thanks to this semi-final tie which includes a specialist side in this particular tournament: Sevilla.

They won the competition in back-to-back seasons in 2006 and 2007, while Valencia picked up the trophy in 2004, per BBC Sport's report.

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In La Liga this season, the results between the two sides have been a 0-0 draw and a 3-1 home win for Valencia back in September.

Meanwhile, Sevilla currently sit fifth in the Spanish league, 12 points ahead of their eighth-placed opponents.

Both sides made it into the last four by overturning first-leg deficits with convincing second-leg wins.

Sevilla turned a 1-0 loss in the first leg into a 4-2 aggregate win, while Valencia won their second leg 5-0 after extra time, having lost 3-0 to Basel in the first leg. 

Unai Emery's side have been on a fantastic run of form domestically, having won seven of their last eight games in La Liga. That's a statistic which must make them favourites in this tie, especially as Valencia have won only twice in eight.

Prediction: Sevilla advance with a 5-2 aggregate win.

Stats via ESPN FC unless otherwise noted. 

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