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Europa League semi-finals first leg preview: Bayer Leverkusen to expose Roma's frailties

We are down to the final four in the Europa League and Thursday's semi-finals should offer plenty of entertainment as some of Europe's biggest teams face off against each other.

Juventus take on the Europa League's most successful club, Sevilla, at home in the first leg of their semi-final, while fellow Serie A club Roma host Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen.

The four clubs will then go head-to-head in the second legs next week and Sevilla and Leverkusen will hope to pick up positive results before they get the chance to play host.

Juve face tough task against Europa League kings

WhatJuventus v Sevilla
WhereAllianz Stadium, Turin
When20:00, Thursday 11th May 2023
How to watchBT Sport 2
OddsJuventus 3/4, Draw 13/5, Sevilla 4/1

As six-time Europa League winners, Sevilla will always command respect in the competition, and it is Juventus' job to try and find a way past them this week.

As hosts in the first leg, the Old Lady have to secure a positive result this week, as the thought of needing a result in Seville is a daunting proposition.

Juve dropped into the Europa League after a disappointing Champions League campaign, but they have found their way past Nantes, Freiburg and Sporting Lisbon without too much trouble.

Massimiliano Allegri's side have not conceded a goal from open play in five Europa League matches and they are also unbeaten in three Serie A matches after losing successive league games 1-0 to Napoli and Inter Milan.

Juve's home form will give them plenty of confidence ahead of Thursday's tie, as they have only lost twice at home since the start of January.

Sevilla head to Turin with a spring in their step, though, having won five of their previous six games in all competitions.

Los Nervionenses have endured a tough campaign overall. Still, they appear to be finding their feet at the right time under Jose Luis Mendilibar, and they cannot ever be overlooked in this competition.

Sevilla have already navigated their way past Manchester United to reach the semi-finals and at 1/1 they look a great price in the double chance market.

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Alonso can make a name for himself

WhatRoma v Bayer Leverkusen
WhereStadio Olimpico, Rome
When20:00, Thursday 11th May 2023
How to watchBT Sport 3
OddsRoma 11/10, Draw 23/10, Bayer Leverkusen 11/4

Former Liverpool midfielder Alonso is well known for his exploits as a player and he could make a real name for himself as a coach should he guide Bayer Leverkusen into the Europa League final at Roma's expense.

The Spaniard has been linked with the managerial vacancy at Tottenham, but for now his focus is purely on Leverkusen's final few matches of the season.

They have enjoyed a solid campaign under Alonso's stewardship and they are sixth in the Bundesliga table, one place higher than Roma sit in Serie A.

Alonso's side will not have it all their own way, though, and even though Roma's form could be better, they know what it takes to succeed in Europe.

Jose Mourinho's men won the Europa Conference League 12 months ago, but they are winless in four in Serie A.

Although they have failed to win their last two at the Stadio Olimpico, Roma have won seven in 10 in front of their own fans, but they may struggle to see off Leverkusen in the first leg.

Alonso played under Mourinho for three seasons, so he will have an insight into what he will do tactically.

Leverkusen's recent 14-match unbeaten run came to an end last weekend against Cologne after a 2-1 defeat, but their form is too good to ignore.

With Florian Wirtz set to start, Leverkusen have a player capable of causing chaos for the Roma defence.

The Leverkusen playmaker has played a part in more Europa League goals than any other player since the end of the group stages, scoring three and grabbing two assists.

Alonso will lean heavily on him and Leverkusen can leave Rome with the win at 11/4.

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