Sevilla look to prove that they belong among Europe’s elite

For Sevilla, the first step towards thriving among Europe's finest teams may come with a win against Juventus.

By: AP | Madrid | Updated: November 21, 2016 9:22 pm
sevilla, sevilla champions league, uefa champions league, ucl, sevilla vs juventus, leicester city champions league, leicester, leicester city, football news, sports news Sevilla have won three consecutive Europa League titles. (Source: AP)

Sevilla wants to show it is ready to reach the next level.

After three straight titles in the Europa League, the Spanish club is hoping to thrive among the best soccer teams on the continent.

And the first step toward that goal may come Tuesday against Juventus, when it can secure a spot in the knockout round of the Champions League for the first time since 2010.

A draw against the Italian champions at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium will be enough to get the club back in the decisive stages of Europe’s top competition, and a win will guarantee first place in Group H.

Sevilla won five Europa League titles in the last 11 seasons, but it has not succeeded in the Champions League since making it to the round of 16 in the 2009-10 season, when it was eventually eliminated by CSKA Moscow. It also advanced past the group stage in the 2007-08 season, when it later lost to Fenerbahce in the last 16.

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli, hired this season to try to turn the Spanish club into a top contender in Europe, rested some of the team’s regular starters in the 3-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna in the Spanish league on Saturday, when the team scored twice in the last five minutes to erase a 2-0 deficit.

“This win, coming back from two goals against a difficult opponent, gives us a huge boost going into Tuesday’s game,” Sampaoli said.

GROUP E

Harry Kane’s return from injury might just be the catalyst that revives Tottenham’s Champions League campaign.

The England striker, who was the Premier League’s top scorer last season, has scored three goals in his first two matches back after seven weeks out with an ankle injury, and should lead Tottenham’s attack for what could be a must-win game at Monaco.

Tottenham has only four points from four games so far, and will be eliminated if they fail to win in southern France and Bayer Leverkusen wins at CSKA Moscow.

Monaco leads the group by two points. If the French team wins, it will be assured of qualifying in first place if Leverkusen doesn’t win in Russia.

GROUP F

Leicester gets a second chance to clinch qualification for the knockout stage in its first Champions League campaign. This time, it comes at home.

The English champions host Club Brugge at King Power Stadium, needing only a draw to advance. Leicester beat the Belgian team 3-0 in their first meeting in the group and is still unbeaten after four games.

The situation couldn’t be more different in the Premier League, with Leicester only two points above the relegation zone after a tough start to its title defense.

“This season I’m watching behind me,” Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said. “The relegation is very close to us.”

Leicester is three points ahead of FC Porto, which visits third-place FC Copenhagen in the group’s other game.

GROUP G

Still unbeaten this season, defending champion Real Madrid needs a draw at Sporting Lisbon to reach the last 16 of the Champions League for the 20th straight time.

The game marks a return to Lisbon for the first time since winning the 2014 trophy against Atletico Madrid at the Estadio da Luz.

Cristian Ronaldo, again facing the team in which he started his career, will have another chance to become the first player to score 100 goals in European competitions. The Portuguese forward, coming off a hat trick in the Madrid derby in the Spanish league, is two goals short of the milestone.

Borussia Dortmund, boosted by a win over Bayern Munich in the German league, can secure first place when it visits already eliminated Legia Warsow. It will be without goalkeeper Roman Buerki, who broke his hand in the match against Bayern.

Sporting needs to defeat Madrid to stay alive.

GROUP H

A victory at Sevilla will guarantee Juventus a spot in the next round, although it can also advance if Lyon fails to win at Dinamo Zagreb.

The Italian champions may be without forward Gonzalo Higuain, who received a knock on his left thigh in the win over Pescara this weekend. Defender Medhi Benatia is also a doubt because of a knee injury.

Juventus was held by Sevilla to a 0-0 home draw earlier this season, and a loss to the Spanish club in the group stage a year ago left the Italians second in their group.

Sevilla has won seven of its last nine matches, with the only setbacks coming in a draw at Sporting Gijon and a home loss to Barcelona.