Tonight sees Wolves take on Europa League specialists Sevilla in a one-legged quarter-final at a neutral venue, the Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena in Duisburg.
Both sides had contrasting finishes to their respective leagues with Sevilla's late-season form enough to book them a place in next year's Champions League while Wolves faded away from the top 4 and baring overall victory in this competition will once again have to make do with a place in the lesser of the European cups in 2020-21.
In fact, Sevilla have found themselves in a rich vein of form going back even further than the restart and are unbeaten in all competitions since February. Their success has been based largely on organisation and defence and they boast the 3rd best defensive record in La Liga behind only the 2 Madrid giants Real and Atletico. However, since La Liga returned in June that stinginess at the back has been even more evident with the Spaniards conceding just 5 goals in their last 11 La Liga fixtures, the best defensive record since the end of lockdown.
At the other end of the pitch, Argentine forward Lucas Ocampos has enjoyed a stellar season netting 14 times in La Liga from the left-flank. On the opposite side of the pitch fans of the Premier League will get to see a couple of players who never quite excelled in the English leagues in the form of Suso who spent a brief spell with Liverpool as a youngster and Jesus Navas who was somewhat more successful during his time at Man City.
Post restart Wolves too have maintained a solid defence with just 5 goals conceded in their final 9 matches but they did suffer 3 defeats in the same period. The primary issue for the Midlands based club this year has been conceding the first goal in games. In fact Wolves trailed at half-time during 17 of their 38 Premier League matches this season with only relegated Norwich and Bournemouth (both 18) having a worse record in that respect.
You feel as though against opposition as well drilled as Sevilla that should Wolves continue their habit of trailing early in games here tonight that forcing their way back in might prove somewhat more difficult. Indeed by contrast the Spanish side scored first in 26 of their 38 league fixtures this season, the equal best record for 2019-20 with eventual champions Real Madrid.
Neither side though is prone to scoring or conceding bucket loads of goals. Sevilla's last 12 fixtures have yielded just 3 matches of over 2.5 goals while Wolves last 10 games have seen only a single contest throw-up 3 or more goals. The English side though have been a little more expansive during their European campaign this year as demonstrated by the 6-3 aggregate win they recorded over the last Spanish opposition they came across, Espanyol during the round of 32. By contrast Sevilla have continued to grind out their results in Europe with all their knock-out matches to date close fixtures..
Given the above, I would imagine that tonight's match will be a cagey affair with both teams looking to build into the fixture. Expansive football in the middle of summer is often difficult and temperatures in Duisburg are set to hit 33C tomorrow meaning the tempo of the game could well be slowed even further. Ultimately Sevilla's pedigree in this contest (they've won it 5 times since the turn of the century) alongside their long unbeaten run may just mean that they have enough to go through despite Wolves best efforts.
Prediction: Under 2.5 goals (90mins) @1.55
Prediction: Sevilla to qualify @1.63
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