Europa League Preview: Sevilla – Krasnodar

Krasnodar’s Europa League match against Sevilla this Thursday could be one of the defining moments of their season. The Bulls have performed well in Europe so far this year, having won four of their five group stage matches. They currently sit atop their group with 12 points, while Sevilla and Standard Liege have 9 points each.

Though they have yet to technically qualify for the round of 16, it would take some pretty drastic circumstances for the Bulls to miss out. In order to not qualify, they would need to lose to Sevilla, Standard Liege would need to beat Akhisar, and they would have to have their five-goal difference over Standard Liege wiped out. That being said, Krasnodar will feel confident of getting a result at Sevilla and advancing given that their last match against Sevilla ended 2-1 in their favour.

Tactical Analysis

The last matchup between these two teams was a very even affair, with possession split nearly 50-50 and Krasnodar holding a slight advantage in shots on target with four to two. This parity was surprising to many as, despite being at home, not many people expected the Bulls to be able to go toe to toe with the Spanish giants. Their performance in the first leg will surely give Murad Musaev’s men a confidence boost heading to Sevilla, knowing that they can get a result while playing their brand of freeflowing, attacking football.

While Krasnodar will certainly aimhold their fair share of possession in this match, it will be much less than the 60% that they typically manage in the league. This difference means that they will be defending more than they are used to, and their midfielders will have to play without the ball. The result of this game will likely be determined by the midfield battle, as the two teams struggle for the upper hand in possession. It is essential that Krasnodar hold enough possession of the ball so as to avoid this match turning into a 90 minute defensive struggle. This will be a tall task in what is sure to be a packed stadium in Sevilla.

Team News

Krasnodar will likely enter this game with two critical absences. The first and most certain absence is recently naturalized striker Ari, who will miss the match with a back injury that he picked up two weeks ago. Ari has been one of Krasnodar’s best performers this season, and is currently tied for the most goals on the team with six. Academy striker Ivan Ignatiev has proven to be a more than capable deputy in Ari’s absence, and so Krasnodar fans shouldn’t worry too much about the striker position.

Serbian center back Uros Spajic also appears as if he will miss this match. He posted a picture of himself on a plane heading to Belgrade recently, and doesn’t appearto be planning to join the team in Sevilla. He is presumably injured, though the club has not announced anything officially, and it is unusual that he is not travelling with the team to support. His replacement will be Icelandic center back Jan Gudni Fjoluson, who looked shaky last week in what was only his second start of the season. Center back will be a point of concern for Krasnodar.

Key Players

Ivan Ignatiev is the man to watch in Krasnodar’s attacking line. The 19 year old striker has shown why he is one of Russia’s most exciting attacking talents in recent weeks, having scored four goals in his last five games, including this beautiful chip last weekend. Ignatiev is most dangerous when playing off the shoulder of the last defender, where he can use his pace and excellent positional sense to give defenses headaches. This skill set will make him especially dangerous should Krasnodar find themselves on the back foot and looking to counter attack.

Midfielder Yuri Gazinsky will be crucial to Krasnodar’s ability to win the midfield battle and play the attacking football that they always aim to show. Tasked with playing a box-to-box role by manager Murad Musaev this season, Gazinsky is both Krasnodar’s assist leader, and also an important defensive piece in midfield. If Gazninsky is fully engaged all match and is able to dictate proceedings, theBulls will feel good about their chances of getting a result in Sevilla.

Predicted Lineup

4-3-3: Kritsyuk- Ramirez, Fjoluson, Martynovich, Petrov- Pereira, Kabore, Gazinsky- Claesson, Ignatiev, Wanderson

Prediction

In his press conference, Sevilla’s manager said that they would be treating this game like a final, and I expect their players to play like it. I think that Krasnodar and Sevilla will play a very even match, much like the first leg. The result very well may come down to which squad is luckier on the day. I expect Krasnodar to have their scoring chances, but the fact that Sevilla play this match at home will just barely tip the score in their favour.

Krasnodar 1-2 Sevilla

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Author: Will Baumgardner

College student in the United States and avid Krasnodar fan. Sergey Galitskiy is the man.

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