Madrid, April 23 (IANS): Sevilla and Valencia will go head-to-head Thursday night in an all-Spanish Europa League semi-final.
The game sees former Valencia coach Unai Emery have the chance to take a home advantage for the return leg against his former club next week, reports Xinhua.
Sevilla have been in excellent form, climbing to fifth place in La Liga while simultaneously progressing in Europe, something that is not easy given the toll that playing Thursday and Sunday takes on players.
Even though Sevilla's weekend match in La Liga sees them travel to face Athletic Club Bilbao in a game which could determine whether or not they are able to overtake the Basque side in fourth place, Emery is putting out his strongest side against Valencia.
Carlos Bacca will lead the attack backed up by the talented Ivan Rakitic while Kevin Gameiro awaits his opportunity on the bench.
Valencia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has more problems with his starting 11 given injury worries in central defence. Victor Ruiz, Ricardo Costa and Phillipe Senderos are also struggling with physical problems and although Senderos could make the subs' bench, Pizzi won't risk him and will probably opt to play defensive midfielder Javi Fuego alongside Jeremy Matthieu.
Despite a magnificent fightback from a 0-3 defeat in Basile in the first leg of the quarter-final, it has been a disappointing season overall for Valencia.
The team is currently drifting in mid-table in La Liga and this is their only chance of achieving anything this season. The most positive aspect for the club is the emergence of youngsters Paco Alcazar, Juan Bernat and Fede Cartabia, all of whom will start Thursday.