A Look At The Europa League Semi-Finals

A Look At The Europa League Semi-Finals

With the European football season drawing to a close, we reach the business end of the year — where trophies and bragging rights that can define a club’s future are up for grabs. While it might not garner the same glitz and glamour of the Champions League, UEFA’s secondary competition, the Europa League, is always entertaining to watch, especially in the latter stages for its unpredictability.

The competition has been dominated by Spanish sides in recent years, with Villarreal upsetting the betting odds on sites like https://www.betdaq.com/ to beat Manchester United on penalties. Ironically, the final this year is in Spain at Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium but won’t feature a La Liga side.

As we approach the semi-finals of the competition it’s looking increasingly tough to predict a winner, with the final four all staking their claim to play in the Champions League next season. Read on as we assess who we think will qualify for this year’s Europa League final.

Rangers vs. RB Leipzig

It’s been a journey redolent of a fairy-tale for Rangers in Europe this season. Having won the league with flying colours last season, the Scottish Premiership champions wanted to stamp their authority in Europe having been eliminated by Sparta Prague last season in a game that was overshadowed by the racial abuse targeted at Glen Kamara.

Like Leicester, it’s not the dream scenario for Rangers after dropping out of the Europa League, but their fans would still be overjoyed with a trip to Seville, as their league season is all but over with Celtic looking set to regain the title. Steven Gerrard left his side in good hands and while Giovanni van Bronckhorst has done a good job, he could come unstuck against the favourites for the competition RB Leipzig.

It was only a couple of years ago that the Bundesliga outfit were considered to be the next big thing in German football and finally a side of snatching the crown from Bayern Munich. But for all the talented players they’ve developed — Timo Werner, Dayot Upamecano and Naby Keïta — as well as their former manager Julian Nagelsmann, the side is dismantled by Europe’s elite.

Domenico Tedesco is another young, hungry coach though and with the likes of Christopher Nkunku, who went from the periphery of the Paris Saint-Germain squad to one of the most versatile goalscoring midfielders around, Leipzig should simply have too much quality for the ambitious Scots.

West Ham United vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Like Rangers, West Ham United’s hopes of returning to the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium — having already played there against Sevilla earlier this season — also rely on a result against German opposition. They face Eintracht Frankfurt who may have struggled in the league so far under Oliver Glasner, currently in 10th, but showed their resilience after beating Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

The trip to the Waldstadion will feel like a bearpit atmosphere, something that is becoming familiar to West Ham with each passing win in Europe. However, the last round appeared to be more routine than usual. Following a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Lyon were unable to cope under the pressure of home advantage, with Craig Dawson’s opener quickly followed up by a second blow via Declan Rice just before halftime. Without any time to settle, the French outfit found themselves 3-0 down when Jarrod Bowen put his side into the next round for an emphatic win.

Frankfurt will certainly not be easy to sweep aside though. While they do have a tendency to leak goals, they’re more than capable of finding the back of the net themselves. Their main goal threat comes in Rafael Borré, who has already scored nine times this season and the Colombian’s clever movement will be a thorn in the side of those West Ham defenders. It will be a cagey affair, but one in which the Irons will just edge through to set up a final with Leipzig.