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All-Italian final still on the cards

All-Italian final still on the cards

NYON: The possibility of an all-Italian Europa League final remained alive when Napoli and Fiorentina were kept apart in Friday’s semi-final draw.

Fiorentina will play holders Sevilla, with the first leg in Spain, and Napoli will have home advantage first against Ukraine’s Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

No Italian club have reached the final since the competition replaced the old UEFA Cup in 2010 however, there were four all-Italian finals in the UEFA Cup in the 1990s.

Sevilla are aiming to become the first side to win a fourth UEFA Cup or Europa League title, having won the UEFA Cup in 2006 and 2007.

“It will be a difficult tie, this competition has given us great joy and any of the opponents would have been difficult,” said Sevilla sporting director Monchi. “Fiorentina are a competitive team. To get here we have suffered, we will continue to do so and try to win it again.”

Napoli, who are through to their first European semi-final since the side captained by Diego Maradona won the UEFA Cup in 1989, will be favourites to beat a Dnipro outfit appearing in their first ever continental semi-final.

Dnipro play their home games in Kiev because UEFA judged Dnipropetrovsk unsafe to host matches during the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The semi-finals take place on May 7 and 14, with the final in Warsaw on May 27. For the first time, the Europa League winner will also earn a place in the group stage of the Champions League next season.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015

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