- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 5, 2015

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Titleholder Sevilla will look to start another home winning streak when it hosts Italian side Fiorentina in the Europa League semifinals on Thursday.

Napoli, the second Serie A club to reach the final four, will welcome Ukraine’s Dnipro in the other first-leg match.

Sevilla’s 34-match run without a loss at its Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium was ended by Real Madrid in a 3-2 loss last weekend, but Unai Emery’s side is now focused on becoming the only team to win Europe’s second-tier competition four times.

“Our fans supported us a lot against Real Madrid, and I believe will we need them a lot on Thursday,” Sevilla defender Timothee Kolodziejczak said. “Fiorentina is a very difficult team. It will be a very hard match.”

Here is a look at both matches:



Loyalties will be divided among Marco Alonso’s family when they turn out to watch the Fiorentina defender in Seville.

Alonso was born in Madrid and progressed through the ranks at Real Madrid before signing for Bolton Wanderers in 2010 and transferring to Fiorentina three years later.

He has made eight appearances in this season’s competition, scoring once.

“I am very proud of my son and what he is doing at Fiorentina, I hope he can play Thursday’s match,” said his father, former Spain winger Marcos Alonso Pena. “We’re all going to the stadium because it will be a very important match for our family. But we’ll also have our hearts split because my daughter Mercedes is a huge Sevilla fan. It will be a very emotional match.”

Fiorentina has won just two of its past eight matches, losing five times.

Sevilla will be led by Colombia striker Carlos Bacca, who has scored 25 goals this season, including four in the Europa League. Forward Kevin Gameiro and midfielders Denis Suarez and Stephane Mbia have all scored three goals apiece in the competition.



Manolo Gabbiadini is slowly carving a name out for himself at Napoli and staking a claim for a regular spot in the starting lineup.

Gabbiadini has made just 11 starts in all competitions since arriving from Sampdoria at the beginning of January, making the most of his appearances from the substitutes’ bench. He has scored nine goals - including four in his past five matches.

The 23-year-old changed the game when he was introduced in the 55th minute against AC Milan on Sunday, with the scoreline goalless, and netted the final goal in the 3-0 win.

Napoli fans have been clamoring for him to start and Rafa Benitez may give him a rare opportunity on Thursday. Gabbiadini has scored two goals in the competition, from two starts and two substitute appearances.

Marek Hamsik also scored against Milan - for the second successive match - as the Napoli captain continues to demonstrate he is back to his best after a poor start to the season.

Hamsik has already equaled his record for the 2010-11 season, when he scored 13 times, with a potential seven matches remaining.

Whoever plays, Napoli should be the favorite in Dnipro’s first ever semifinal.

Dnipro has only one win away from home in the competition this season, while Napoli is undefeated in 12 straight European home matches and leads the tournament with 25 goals, compared to 11 for Dnipro since the group stage.


AP writer Daniella Matar contributed to his report from Turin, Italy.

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