The Round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League unfolds over the next two Thursdays, so before the action kicks off around Europe on Thursday afternoon, we thought we would preview the eight matchups of the round.
Up next, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between Spanish club Sevilla and Slavia Prague of the Czech Republic. Their leg one match kicks off from Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán in Seville, Spain on Thursday 7 March at 5:55pm GMT (12:55pm EST).
What Happened in the Round of 32
Sevilla entered the Round of 32 as one of the top favorites to advance after being drawn against Lazio. After winning leg one 1-0 in Rome, they held to form when the action returned to Spain, winning leg two 2-0 and advancing 3-0 on aggregate. Wissam Ben Yedder scored two of the three goals during the round.
Slavia Prague, on the other hand, entered the Round of 32 with fairly long odds against Genk, given only a 1-in-4 chance of advancing. After forcing a scoreless draw in leg one, which was played in Prague, their odds didn’t increase much heading into leg two, especially with Genk playing host. And after an early goal, the Belgians looked to be the stronger club… until Slavia Prague scored to equalize. Then scored again. The two more in a five minute span. When all was said and done, Slavia Prague won 4-1 and advanced.
What the Experts are Saying
This underdog victory didn’t suddenly make Slavia Prague a better club, at least in regards to their further odds. Prior to the draw, FiveThirtyEight simulations gave the Czechs an 18% chance of advancing to the quarterfinals, and they are by far the worst club remaining in the Europa League draw (at least according to SPI ranking).
The draw did not help them, as Sevilla entered the round with a 64% chance of advancing before they knew who their opponent was. Drawing the weakest remaining club only increased their odds, and they currently are the overall favorites, both to reach the quarterfinals (91%) and to win the tournament (14%).
What We’re Thinking
Can Slavia Prague find lightning in a bottle for the second consecutive round? I doubt it, and Sevilla can all but bury them with a strong match in Spain on Thursday. It’s going to take a miracle to keep leg one close enough for leg two to matter in Prague, and I’m not willing to say that Slavia Prague will find that miracle in this one.
Until next time…
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