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Sevilla 1-1 Juventus (2-1 AET): Talking points as Sevilla continue run into final for seventh Europa League

Veselin Trajkovic in Editorial, UEFA Europa League 19 May 2023

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Sevilla, the Europa League record holders with six titles, will have a chance to try for No. 7 after edging out Juventus in the semifinals. Both legs ended with the same scoreline over the 90 minutes, 1-1, and the La Liga side managed to get a vital second goal in the extra-time to go through without the need for a penalty shootout.

Juventus took the lead through a nice chip by substitute Dusan Vlahovic in the 65th minute, and Suso equalized with a superb strike from range six minutes later. The decisive goal was the work of Erik Lamela, also a substitute in this game, five minutes into the first added period.

The game

Sevilla arguably deserved their triumph. They dominated possession through both matches, the second leg with the ball in their control for 60% of the 120 minutes, and with a total of 28 shots, compared to Juventus’ 17. Consequently, their passing game outstripped that of the visitors, with 580 passes attempted with a completion rate of 83% (Juventus had 413, 73%).

Naturally, the ball spent a lot of time in and around Wojciech Szczesny’s box, and the Poland international was forced into a number of excellent saves to keep his team in the game practically down to the final whistle.

On the other hand, Juventus went for defensive discipline and a very direct attacking approach, waiting patiently for counterattacking opportunities which came occasionally. Only after Lamela scored what eventually remained the last game of the tie did the Serie A giants change their game – obviously too late.

Allegri’s selection

Eyebrows were raised when Juventus released their starting XI for this match, as head coach Massimilano Allegri left striker Dusan Vlahovic and wing-back Filip Kostic on the bench and selected Moise Kean and Samuel Iling-Junior to start instead of the two Serbia internationals, both regular starters throughout the season.

Vlahovic being omitted was arguably the greater surprise there, and the 23-year-old striker showed straight away that Allegri had chosen wrong. His opener came just one minute after he came on to replace Kean, making the question mark over his absence from the starting XI even larger.

Vlahovic’s form hasn’t been very consistent this term, but he proved himself clearly as a big-game player and that’s something Allegri should’ve known beforehand. The Old Lady supporters will surely be wondering if the fortunes of their team in this match would’ve been different had the former Fiorentina hit-man played from the first whistle.

Kean is a very talented player as well, but he has so far largely failed to fulfill his potential.

Controversies

Referee Danny Makkelie mostly controlled the situation on the pitch well, with strong authority and finely tuned sense for the game flow typical for officials of such experience. However, there was a moment late in the first half that will surely remain a mystery for as long as people remember this contest.

Sevilla winger Bryan Gil was trying to break into the box from the left, when Juan Cuadrado made a sharp tackle that the referee judged to have been done within the rules. However, the subsequent slow-motion footage revealed that the Colombian wing-back made his tackle late and caught Gil directly on the foot, and that the contact was made on the very line marking the box. The line is, according to the laws of the game, a part of the penalty area, which obviously means there was cause for the VAR to step in and send Makkelie to the pitch-side monitor, but the Dutch referee didn’t get a call and allowed play to continue.

Had Juventus won the game, the moment would surely spark plenty of outrage from the Spanish media, and rightly so.

There was another interesting moment, though perhaps not as controversial as the first one. Five minutes before the end of the second extra-time period, Makkelie booked Sevilla left-back Marcos Acuna for time wasting, and only at an intervention from Juventus midfielder Leandro Paredes did he remember to check his notebook, to realize Acuna had been booked before and send him off.

Into the final

The final will surely be an intriguing affair. AS Roma managed to hold Bayer Leverkusen off to a goalless draw in Germany after winning the first leg in Rome, which means Jose Mendilibar will have to find a way to outwit Jose Mourinho as his next challenge. The Portuguese tactician, who is, of course, the only manager in the game to have won all three UEFA competitions in his career after Roma won the Europa Conference League last season, is known as very difficult to beat in such circumstances.

The game will take place at the Ferenc Puskas Arena in Budapest, on May 31st.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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