Sevilla and Benfica lock horns on Wednesday night in Turin in the final of this season’s Europa League. However, despite both having done brilliantly to reach the climax of the tournament, neither is in sparkling form ahead of their trip to Italy.
Of the two sides, Sevilla are in particularly poor form as they prepare for the biggest match of their season. The Andalusians have lost three and drawn one of their last four matches, which is far from ideal preparation for the showpiece at Juventus Stadium. Just two goals in those four games also suggest that their strikers are a large factor in why results are not being gained.
Their strike force has been led by Carlos Bacca and Kevin Gameiro this season, but both are struggling at the climax of the campaign. After a hot streak in April, which saw him net six times in four games, Gameiro now just has one in his last four, per Soccerway. Meanwhile, Bacca’s spell is even more barren with just one goal in his last seven.
It is yet unclear as to whether Gameiro will even feature in Turin, after the Frenchman sat out Sevilla's last game with a damaged knee. As Tom Conn writes for Inside Spanish Football:
According to the club’s official website, Gameiro underwent extensive medical tests on Saturday afternoon and was ruled out of Sunday evening’s match against Getafe due to the injury.
The statement went on to read that the club’s medical staff will continue to monitor the situation, but it is indeed doubtful that the 27-year-old will be given medical clearance ahead of Wednesday’s historic final.
As mentioned, Benfica have not been at their best of late either, with just one win in their last five outings. In their defence, however, that one win saw them wrap up the Portuguese League Cup, whilst the Primeira Liga has been sewn up for some time. They may not have been winning as regularly, but they have certainly performed when they needed to all season.
Like Sevilla they have been a little short on goals of late. They have not been especially prolific all season, with their success more based on a sturdy defence, but with just four scored in their last five, they are looking especially blunt.
Again, like their opponents, Benfica’s main threat in attack is not in the finest form. Lima is their most potent forward this season with 14 goals, but just three in his last 11 outings is not a great return.
With neither side at their best, and both struggling to find the back of the net on a regular basis, this should be a low-scoring affair. However, there is no question that Benfica have the edge over their Spanish opponents and are quite rightly the favourites with the bookmakers, per Oddschecker.com.
Comparing the two sides' trips to the final is enough to expect a Benfica victory. They have not been beaten as yet whilst Sevilla have lost three times, including in their last contest.
The Portuguese champions have a rock solid defence, as has been evidenced in this tournament and their domestic league. In eight games in the Europa League, they have conceded just four times, and in 30 Primeira Liga contests, they have let in just 18 goals.
Liga Zon Sagres 2013/14: SL Benfica Champions P30 W23 D5 L2 F58 A18 GD+40. Most goals scored and least goals suffered.— Planet Benfica (@planetbenfica) May 11, 2014
It will take a potent attack to break down this back line, and it does not seem like Sevilla have what it takes to do that. It will be tight and nervy, but Benfica should pinch this one by the odd goal.