By Jerry Mancini.
Sevilla’s great season under Julen Lopetegui continued as they advanced to the Europa League semi-finals where they will face Manchester United.
Lucas Ocampos scored late in the second half to secure a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the quarters, as the ex-Marseille man continues to enjoy an impressive season with Sevilla.
Julen Lopetegui has created an exciting brand of football which has his team playing an attack-minded style, and Wolves were unable to overcome that relentless attacking prowess of the La Liga side.
🏆 The semi-finals are set!
Who will contest the final?#UEL
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) August 11, 2020
Julen Lopetegui Enjoying Life At Sevilla
Last season, Sevilla reached the Round of 16 in the Europa League, and finished sixth in La Liga, failing to qualify for the Champions League. Pablo Machín started the season at the helm but was eventually replaced by interim manager, Joaquín Caparrós.
Since his arrival at the start of the 2019/20 season, Lopetegui has turned the course for Sevilla. His club finished fourth in La Liga to earn a spot in Champions League next season and their win over Wolves sets them up for a meeting with Man United in the Europa League semi-finals. Two feats the club failed to accomplish last year have already been achieved this term.
Sevilla demonstrated a beautiful brand of football against Wolves, as their relentless pressure, quick passing, and movement off the ball made it difficult for their opponents as the game progressed. After a rigid start, the Spanish side settled down and started to take control of the game.
In the second half, the Premier League side struggled to gain possession of the ball and made Adama Traoré non-existent after a stellar first half in which he won a penalty that Raúl Jiménez was unable to convert.
While it did take a late goal to secure the win, Sevilla never sat back and continued to apply pressure throughout. It’s a sign of how this club has changed in many different ways. They are playing with full confidence and will be a difficult opponent for United.
Lucas Ocampos Continues To Impress
After struggling to show consistency with Marseille last season, Ocampos has enjoyed a good season under Lopetegui at Sevilla.
Last year he finished with four goals in 34 matches in Ligue 1 and one goal in four matches in the Europa League. This year has been a massive improvement, scoring 14 goals in 33 La Liga matches.
His first goal in the Europa League turned out to be the one that sent them to the semi-finals. It came at the most crucial time in a game that lacked goals and may have been his most important strike of the season.
Ocampos has shown to become a complete and more consistent player. Throughout the match, he made good runs into the box, timely key passes, and four shots on goal. The winger showed a great work ethic, used the space given to him to his advantage, and was decisive in the final third. He proved to once again be the difference-maker for Sevilla.
Raul Jiménez Miss Proves Costly
In the early stages of the match, the Wolves made it difficult for Sevilla and gave them a real scare. Throughout the first half, Traoré proved to be difficult to defend. His strength and speed posed a problem for Jules Koundé and Diego Carlos.
To win the penalty, the Spaniard engineered a counter-attack all by himself. Koundé struggled to keep pace with him and this led Carlos to concede a foul inside the box. With Wolves riding the momentum and showing to be the better team in the early stages, this was a golden opportunity to take an early lead, dictate the flow of the game, and put the pressure on Sevilla.
Jiménez stepped up to take the spot-kick against backup goalkeeper, Bono, who came up with a big save to keep the game scoreless, but in truth, it was a poor penalty.
Wolves didn’t let up and continued to apply the pressure in the first half, but as the game progressed, Sevilla started to dictate the tempo and spent the majority of the second half in the opposition final third.
The penalty miss was a crucial moment in the match that shifted the game in Sevilla’s favour. Wolves will look back on their missed opportunity that was wasted, and wish they could have changed the script of this game.