Wolves v Sevilla
Tuesday 10 August, 20:00
Live on BT Sport
Are Wolves finally running on empty?
It's been an extraordinarily long campaign for Wolves. More than a year has passed since they began their Europa League journey against Crusaders, and the signs are that such a Herculean effort is finally taking its toll. Manager Nuno likes to keep everyone involved by running a small squad, and while there are clear benefits of such an inclusive approach, there are physical drawbacks.
Wolves were very flat at Stamford Bridge in their final Premier League game of the season, a 2-0 defeat against Chelsea, and their 1-0 win over Olympiakos in the last 16 of the Europa League was far from convincing. The Greek champions created numerous attacking positions, and were denied an equaliser by a matter of millimetres because of offside. Wolves have now scored multiple goals in just two of their last nine matches in all competitions, and if you look at their form away from Molineux, it's concerning. They have won just three of their last nine away games, and have lost two of the last three.
At least star striker Raul Jimenez is looking sharp. He scored the winning goal against Olympiakos, his tenth UEL goal of the season. Left-sided wing-back Jonny is the only injury doubt for Nuno to contend with, and Ruben Vinagre is ready to step in if needed. Daniel Podence won the winning spot-kick against his old side Olympiakos, and will hope to keep his place.
Sevilla showed their class in Roma romp
I must admit I misjudged Sevilla ahead of their last-16 game against Roma. I saw it as a much more even game than the market suggested, with Roma having won seven out of their last eight in Serie A. As it happened, Sevilla wiped the floor with the Giallorossi in a 2-0 win that could have been far more comfortable. Argentinian conductor Ever Banega ran the game, Lucas Ocampos was bright, the backline played very solidly indeed and in-demand left-back Sergio Reguilon scored a fabulous goal.
Sevilla are now unbeaten in their last 18 matches in all competitions, and while teams like Roma and Wolves are starting to look a bit jaded, Julen Lopetegui's side is playing with energy and purpose. They have now won six of their last seven games, and have kept six clean sheets in the process.
It's become a cliché, but Sevilla really do feel like this is their competition. They won it in three successive seasons under Unai Emery, and have won it five times in the last 14 years. Unlike some clubs, they take the Europa League incredibly seriously.
Goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik is still struggling with injury, so Yassine Bounou is ready to once again deputise, and forwards Luuk De Jong and Munir are pushing hard for starting spots, but are likely to be on the bench.
Sevilla ready to make the last four
Wolves have seen their performance level dip in the last few matches, and although they remain an incredibly tough side to break down, they aren't creating enough in attack. At times last week, Olympiakos played through Nuno's side too easily, just as Chelsea had at Stamford Bridge.
I underestimated Sevilla ahead of the Roma game, and I won't be making that mistake again. You could be conservative and back the Andalusians to qualify at 1.635/8, but I'll be bolder and back them to win inside 90 minutes at 2.265/4.
Two tough defences mean goals at a premium
I can understand why Under 2.5 Goals is at short as 1.68/13 here. Sevilla are barely conceding, and nine of their last 12 games have featured fewer than three goals. It's a similar scenario for Wolves, with 11 of their last 12 matches featuring two goals or fewer.
On that basis, backing No in the Both Teams To Score market is worth considering at 1.824/5.
Jimenez to continue UEL blitz?
Even though I think Wolves will be knocked out here, Jimenez is always worth considering in the To Score market, and because the Black Country side are the underdogs here, he's trading at a hefty 11/5 to score in 90 minutes.
On the Sevilla side, Lucas Ocampos has rattled in 16 goals this term, and is worth a look at 15/8.