Juventus aims for European final in home stadium

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2014 at 12:02 am •  Published: April 30, 2014
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TURIN, Italy (AP) — Tournament favorite Juventus and Valencia will be looking to their home fans to help them overturn first-leg deficits on Thursday and reach the Europa League final.

Juventus trails Benfica 2-1 entering its second-leg match in its Turin stadium, which will also host the May 14 final, while Valencia trails Sevilla 2-0 in an all-Spanish affair.

Here are five things to know about the semifinals:

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CONTE'S DILEMMA: Juventus has not reached a European final since the 2003 Champions League final when it lost to Italian rival AC Milan on penalties, and the Turin club's coach is anticipating what the critics will say if they win — or lose — this tournament.

"If we're able to win the Europa League everyone will say that it's a minor cup," Conte said after Juve beat Sassuolo 3-1 on Monday in Serie A. "And if we lose then they'll say we're not ready for Europe yet."

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SEVILLA FOCUS: Sevilla coach Unai Emery expects his team to pick itself up quickly after losing its chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

Sevilla's 3-1 loss at Athletic Bilbao saw it slip six points behind the fourth-place Basque club, effectively ending its qualifying options with just three games remaining.

"Thursday will be the next step in improving what needs to be improved," Emery said after Sunday's defeat, which ended a five-game winning streak in all competitions. "We need to understand the loss, the team needs to do well the things it did badly (against Athletic)."

Sevilla reached the final in 2006 when it won its second straight UEFA Cup — the former incarnation of the competition.

"We have an advantage on the first result. No doubt of that," Emery said. "But this is something to be continued."

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TITLE HUNTING: One goal could be enough to book Juventus a place in the final but Benfica is intent on improving its runner-up finish from last season.

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