The Europa League has a special lustre for Sevilla. They won the tournament in three consecutive seasons under Unai Emery from 2014 to 2016, and in all they have lifted the trophy five times in the 21st century. This season, they came through the group stage with ease, but were pushed all the way by Romanian champions CFR Cluj in the last 32 because triumphing on away goals. The COVID-19 outbreak meant that their last-16 tie with Roma never began, and so the teams will play a one-off match in Duisburg on Thursday.
It feels like this game has been priced up as if Sevilla are the home side, because they seem too short to me to win in 90 minutes at 2.24. Julen Lopetegui's side did finish the La Liga season strongly, securing a Champions League spot with a run of five wins in six games, and they are unbeaten since the lockdown. However, Roma are also in form, and have too much quality to be easily dismissed.
Roma won their final four matches of the Serie A season, including an eye-catching victory at champions Juventus. They finished fifth after a run of seven wins in eight, and their only defeat in the Europa League this term was a rather unjust one at Borussia Monchengladbach. Coach Paulo Fonseca has made astute tactical adjustments which have paid off, and the return from injury of midfield wonderkid Nicolo Zaniolo has been a timely boost.
You can back Roma in the To Qualify market here at 2.38, but you can also make a profit if Roma stay unbeaten in the 90 minutes if you back Roma/Draw in the Double Chance market, coupled with an Over 0.5 Goals bet on the Sportsbook. Roma haven't played out a goalless draw since the first week of December.
Eintracht Frankfurt made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Europa League last season, and were just a penalty-kick or two from making the trip to Baku for the final. This season, the UEL dream hangs by the thinnest of threads after a 3-0 hammering in Germany.
Basel's inconsistency cost them a shot at winning the Swiss Super League title this term, and they ended up 14 points adrift of the champions Young Boys. They had recent wins against Young Boys and runners-up St Gallen, but also dropped points too often against strugglers like Sion and Thun.
Frankfurt have to go for it here, and it's worth noting that eight of Basel's last 17 games in all competitions have featured at least four goals. The Eagles can contribute plenty of firepower, having scored 20 goals in their final nine games of the Bundesliga season.
Shakhtar Donetsk have clinched yet another Ukrainian title, finishing a whopping 23 points clear of old foes Dynamo Kyiv, and they can now fully focus on trying to win a trophy they lifted in 2009. They go into this match with a 2-1 first-leg lead and a 13-match unbeaten run which includes friendlies.
Wolfsburg have booked a place in next season's Europa League, but they struggle against teams that are technically superior, and I'm tempted to put Shakhtar in that category. Post-lockdown the Wolves suffered comprehensive defeats against Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayern Munich, and they aren't a front-foot team, so Shakhtar have them where they want them.
There was something comfortingly familiar about seeing Antonio Conte wrap up an impressive campaign that saw his Inter Milan finish just a point behind the champions Juventus, only to then launch into a tirade about issues off the field. Although the irascible Italian coach insists transfer business isn't the focus, as it was at Chelsea, the same air of dissatisfaction remains.
On the pitch, Inter have done very well. Romelu Lukaku (a favourite of Conte) underlined his quality by scoring 23 Serie A goals in his first season in Italy, Lautaro Martinez excelled alongside him in attack, and this feels like a squad that can seriously challenge Juventus next term.
Conte's future is clouded, but he'll at least stay in charge for the UEL tilt, and I think he'll find a way past the old-school battlers of Getafe. Jose Bordalas' team deserves massive credit for the way they elbowed aside Ajax in the last 32, but their domestic season ended in disappointment, as they won just one of their final 11 La Liga games, finishing outside the European places.
Getafe will set up to frustrate and contain, so I'll combine an Inter win with an Under 3.5 Goals bet here at 2.12. 27 of Getafe's last 28 games have seen an Under 3.5 Goals bet land.