Europa League preview: Porto v Sevilla

Sevilla travel to Porto’s Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday faced with the prospect of elimination from the Europa League.

Spanish side Sevilla trail 2-1 following a home defeat in the first leg of their round-of-32 tie at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on February 17.

Centre-forward Frederic Kanoute equalised after Rolando’s opener, but the former Mali international then became the villain of the piece for the home fans.

Kanoute missed an open goal from barely three yards out that would have made it 2-1.

He later gifted possession to Porto in midfield, allowing substitute Cristian Rodriguez to steal in and set-up Fredy Guarin for the winning goal.

With two away goals to their name from the first leg, Porto are undeniably in command.

Sevilla will need to score at least twice and keep a clean sheet if they are progress.

But if Porto score, the visitors must then find three goals or more to make it through.

The bad news for the Spanish club is that Porto have not failed to find the net in 29 matches this season, while keeping 16 clean sheets.

Led by highly-rated coach Andre Villas-Boas – a student of Jose Mourinho – Porto are romping away with the Liga Sagres, eight points ahead of defending champions Benfica and an enormous 23 points clear of third-placed Sporting Lisbon.

Sevilla were forced to battle to a tight 1-0 win over Hercules in La Liga on Sunday, while Porto – without a domestic fixture – enjoyed a valuable rest.

The hosts should welcome back Columbian Radamel Falcao to the starting line-up after he missed the trip to Spain with a knee injury.

He will join Brazilian forward Hulk and winger Silvestre Varela in one of the most potent attacking forces outside of the major European leagues.

Sevilla will be without Martin Caceres, Romaric and first-choice goalkeeper Andres Palop, meaning Javi Varas will deputize between the sticks.

And despite their significant absentees, Varas believes his side remain in with a chance of reaching the last 16.

He said: “If we aren’t convinced that about getting through, then who would be?”

“In the first leg we did enough to get a better result, but if we play like that again in Wednesday’s game and have a little more luck we will have our chances of getting through,” Varas said.