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Soccer-Valencia seek Basel inspiration to knock out Sevilla

Reuters

By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA, April 29 (Reuters) - Valencia will take inspiration from their comeback win over Basel in the last round of the Europa League as they bid to reach the final by overhauling a 2-0 first-leg loss to Sevilla.

Thursday's match is Valencia's last chance to turn round a disappointing season marred by financial problems, takeover bids and poor performances in which Miroslav Djukic was replaced as coach by Juan Antonio Pizzi in December.

Defeat by Atletico Madrid on Sunday virtually ended their hopes of finishing in a European spot in La Liga, so they are banking on overcoming Sevilla at the Mestalla having achieved a spectacular comeback in the quarter-final against Basel.

The winners of the all-Spanish tie will face Juventus or Benfica in the final with the Portuguese side taking a 2-1 lead into the away leg.

"We know we can do it as we have already achieved it against Basel and we can do it once more against Sevilla," Valencia forward Jonas told reporters on Tuesday.

Valencia lost their first leg 3-0 in Switzerland but put five past Basel in the return leg.

"It is a goal fewer but the rival is stronger and so it is going to be very difficult but with the help of all the team we can do it.

"The fans will be key and I am sure that they are going to back us to the end, the same or if not more than they did against Basel and between all of us we can get to the final in Turin which is the dream that we have.

"We have the experience from the Basel match. We need to be concentrated on defending and not conceding a goal which is the most important and then with patience we have to find the spaces in their defence to score first."

They will, however, be without suspended striker Paco Alcacer, who scored a hat-trick in the drubbing of Basel, giving Jonas the opportunity to start.

"I am ready to play centre-forward and I am concentrated on the comeback," he added.

Sevilla also suffered league disappointment at the weekend when their hopes of a Champions League place were severely dented by a loss to direct rivals Athletic Bilbao. They trail fourth-placed Athletic by six points and European success is now their main target for the season.

Sevilla are still the form team going into the second leg having won nine of their last 12 games. Midfielder Ivan Rakitic has been in sparkling form and was among those who were rested against Bilbao.

"It is now going to be a very difficult game and we will all have to do our bit," said Sevilla coach Unai Emery who returns to the club he led from 2008 to 2012.

"On Thursday it will be a case of improving but there is not much point now analysing too much what went wrong against Athletic. We need to take away quick conclusions and bounce back." (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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