Wolves vs Sevilla preview: Underdogs hoping to halt Spaniards’ stellar streak
By Matt Hill
11 August 2020, 11:53
Wolves will secure a spot in the Europa League semi-finals if they defeat competition specialists Sevilla tonight — a whopping 383 days after playing their opening fixture.
Speaking following his side's 1-0 win over Olympiacos at Molineux last week, boss Nuno Espirito Santo claimed the "long, long, long" season was taking its toll on his troops.
And while Raul Jimenez’s early penalty ensured they progressed from the last 16, improvement will be required if their mammoth European journey is to continue.
Opponents Sevilla know exactly what is required to win the Europa League having lifted the trophy in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Including earlier triumphs in 2006 and 2007, when the tournament was still known as the UEFA Cup, the Spaniards hold the uniquely imperious record of never losing a tie after reaching the quarter-final stage, with 15 wins from 15 games.
Julen Lopetegui’s men also come into this encounter on an outstanding 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
A solid defence has been key in that streak, with 10 clean sheets recorded.
Centre-backs Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde have formed an excellent understanding but will need to be at their best to contain Jimenez.
The Mexican, 29, has found the net 27 times this season while also providing 10 assists for team-mates.
If Jimenez cannot find a way through, Wolves will need Rui Patricio to continue his rich vein of form.
The Portuguese keeper was inspired against Olympiacos, producing a string of fine saves to help maintain a precious shutout.
And given Wolves’ last six victories have been achieved without conceding, a tight contest may be their best hope of progression.
Tonight’s winners will face tournament favourites Manchester United in the semis after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side needed extra-time to edge out Copenhagen last night.
Wolves and Sevilla are meeting for the very first time. Wolves have already overcome Spanish opposition this season with a 6-3 aggregate victory over Espanyol in the last 32.
Sevilla's unbeaten run of 18 games (nine wins and nine draws) in all competitions is their longest ever as a top-flight club.
Wolves are playing their first European quarter-final since the 1971-72 UEFA Cup.