Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 10th 2014 Contents A53
Thursday, April 10, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
T REASON TO CELEBRATE
MADRID---The Iberian peninsu-
la s grip on the Europa League will
loosen if Juventus and Basel can
make good on first-leg victories
and reach the semifinals of
Europe s second-tier tournament.
Juventus 1-0 first-leg win at Lyon
provides the cushion of an away
goal for the Serie A champions at
their home stadium, where the final
will be held on May 14.
Basel trounced Valencia 3-0 to
travel to Spain with a big lead, while
Benfica and Porto both secured 1-
0 victories for the Portuguese clubs
to be in control of their series.
Portuguese leader Benfica wel-
comes AZ Alkmaar while Porto trav-
els to Sevilla with the confidence
of knowing three of the past four
winners of the competition have
come from Spain or Portugal.
Here are five things to know
about today s quarterfinal return
Home, sweet home
Juventus has been unbeatable at
home this season and will expect
to continue that record following
its 1-0 first-leg win at Lyon.
A 2-0 victory over Livorno on
Monday marked Juve s 16th win in
16 Serie A home matches this sea-
son, matching the record set by city
rival Torino in 1947-48.
Juventus is undefeated at home
in its other three competitions this
season as it hones in on a third con-
secutive Italian title with an eight-
point lead over Roma. It just has to
be sure it reaches the Europa League
"We want to get into a European
semifinal," Juventus coach Antonio
Conte said. "We need the support
of our fans, from now until the end
of the season."
Swiss can't miss
Basel is playing for national
pride---and its own future Cham-
pions League prospects---at Valencia
Leading 3-0 from the first leg at
home, Basel is favored to advance
to a second straight Europa League
semifinal and earn Switzerland extra
ranking points. That would lift the
Alpine nation into 12th place in
UEFA s rankings for club competi-
tions---guaranteeing whoever is
Swiss league winner next year a place
in the 2015-16 Champions League group
Basel has won five of the past six Swiss
titles and currently leads the table.
Valencia is in danger of missing out
on European football altogether for the
first time since the 2005/06 season.
The 0-0 draw at Valladolid on the
weekend left it winless in five matches
in all competitions. Valencia is eighth in
the Spanish league, nine points off qual-
ifying for the next season s Europa League
with just six games to play.
"The last thing we will lose is our
hope," Valencia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi
Porto carries a 1-0 first-leg lead to
Sevilla where it will aim to make up for
its disappointing reign as Portuguese
Porto was mathematically eliminated
from the domestic title race on Monday
when it dropped 15 points behind leader
Benfica. Porto warmed up for Sevilla
with a 3-1 victory over Academica.
Sevilla s chase for one of the Spanish
league s Champions League places con-
tinued gaining steam as it beat Espanyol
"The team is ready, it believes in its
chances," Sevilla coach Unai Emery said.
"But Porto is a team that is always capa-
ble of creating problems, so we have to
expect they will be at their best."
Benfica is on course to erasing all of
last year s disappointments as it wel-
comes Dutch side AZ Alkmaar nursing
a 1-0 lead.
The Portuguese leaders went from
treble talk to zero trophies last season
after being undone by late goals in all
three competitions, ultimately losing the
Portuguese title to Porto, the Portuguese
Cup to Guimaraes, and the Europa
League to Chelsea following a stoppage-
Now, Portuguese leader Benfica enjoys
a six-point advantage over Sporting Lis-
bon after a 4-0 win over Rio Ave on
"We re playing well, with great con-
fidence and good execution," Benfica
defender Maxi Pereira said. (AP)
Juventus, Basel, Porto, Benfica eye Europa semis
Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, of France, controls the ball during a Serie
A football match between Juventus and Livorno at the Juventus stadium,
in Turin, Italy, Monday. Pogba will today try to help Juventus advance to
the semifinals. AP PHOTO
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