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Europa League: Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla Preview

europa-league-newWith all eyes on the Klopp derby you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the only Europa League tie going on but in the best of the rest there’s an all Spanish affair between the holders Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao. Here’s our five things to look out for.

Battle of the bosses

There are few better coaches around than these two. Chelsea have looked at Bilbao’s Ernesto Valverde before and both Swansea and West Ham have considered Unai Emery. The former was also courted by Real Madrid this season but has now signed a new contract. Emery will still be on many top clubs’ lists this summer and is trying for a third straight Europa League with Sevilla.

Tale of two strikers

Athletic’s Aritz Aduriz has eight goals in Europe this season – that’s as many as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Robert Lewandowski. His goal against Marseille was one of the best of the season so far and he has also played himself into the Spain squad. Fernando Llorente scored over 100 goals for Athletic Bilbao but they booed him towards the end when he asked for a move. He has had limited success, in Italy and now at Sevilla, since leaving and will may start on the bench.

Premier League past and future

Sevilla midfielder Steven N’Zonzi played over 100 games for Stoke but it’s his midfield partner Grzegorz Krychowiak who could be next to play in England. Arsenal were interested in the summer but were put off by the £30million price tag. The Polish international will be a wanted man again at the end of the season.

One to watch

Inaki Williams is back from a month-long lay off with an ankle injury. Athletic’s top scorer behind Aduriz is only 21 but the club have just extended his contract until 2020 and bumped his buy-out clause up to £50m.

Plan of attack

Sevilla have not won away all season but are formidable at home. Athletic were not great against Gary Neville’s Valencia in the last round and have lost key defender Aymeric Laporte. They need to establish a lead at home preferably without conceding.