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Sevilla to show they belong among best in Europe

Real Madrid need a draw at Sporting Lisbon

By AP - Nov 21,2016 - Last updated at Nov 21,2016

MADRID — Sevilla want to show they are ready to reach the next level.

After three straight titles in the Europa League, the Spanish club is hoping to thrive among the best football teams on the continent.

And the first step towards that goal may come Tuesday against Juventus, when they can secure a spot in the knockout round of the Champions League for the first time since 2010.

A draw against the Italian champions at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium will be enough to get the club back in the decisive stages of Europe’s top competition, and a win will guarantee first place in Group H.

Sevilla won five Europa League titles in the last 11 seasons, but they have not succeeded in the Champions League since making it to the round of 16 in the 2009-10 season, when they were eventually eliminated by CSKA Moscow. It also advanced past the group stage in the 2007-08 season, when it later lost to Fenerbahce in the last 16.

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli, hired this season to try to turn the Spanish club into a top contender in Europe, rested some of the team’s regular starters in the 3-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna in the Spanish league on Saturday, when the team scored twice in the last five minutes to erase a 2-0 deficit.

“This win, coming back from two goals against a difficult opponent, gives us a huge boost going into Tuesday’s game,” Sampaoli said.

 

Group E

 

Harry Kane’s return from injury might just be the catalyst that revives Tottenham’s Champions League campaign.

The England striker, who was the Premier League’s top scorer last season, has scored three goals in his first two matches back after seven weeks out with an ankle injury, and should lead Tottenham’s attack for what could be a must-win game at Monaco.

Tottenham have only four points from four games so far, and will be eliminated if they fail to win in southern France and Bayer Leverkusen win at CSKA Moscow.

Monaco lead the group by two points. If the French team win, they will be assured of qualifying in first place if Leverkusen does not win in Russia.

 

Group F

 

Leicester get a second chance to clinch qualification for the knockout stage in their first Champions League campaign. This time, it comes at home.

The English champions host Club Brugge at King Power Stadium, needing only a draw to advance. Leicester beat the Belgian team 3-0 in their first meeting in the group and are still unbeaten after four games.

The situation could not be more different in the Premier League, with Leicester only two points above the relegation zone after a tough start to its title defence.

“This season I’m watching behind me,” Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said. “The relegation is very close to us.”

Leicester are three points ahead of FC Porto, who visit third-place FC Copenhagen in the group’s other game.

 

Group G

 

Still unbeaten this season, defending champion Real Madrid need a draw at Sporting Lisbon to reach the last 16 of the Champions League for the 20th straight time.

The game marks a return to Lisbon for the first time since winning the 2014 trophy against Atletico Madrid at the Estadio da Luz.

Cristian Ronaldo, again facing the team in which he started his career, will have another chance to become the first player to score 100 goals in European competitions. The Portuguese forward, coming off a hat trick in the Madrid derby in the Spanish league, is two goals short of the milestone.

Borussia Dortmund, boosted by a win over Bayern Munich in the German league, can secure first place when they visits already eliminated Legia Warsow. It will be without goalkeeper Roman Buerki, who broke his hand in the match against Bayern.

Sporting need to defeat Madrid to stay alive.

 

Group H

 

A victory at Sevilla will guarantee Juventus a spot in the next round, although they can also advance if Lyon fail to win at Dinamo Zaghreb.

The Italian champion may be without forward Gonzalo Higuain, who received a knock on his left thigh in the win over Pescara this weekend. Defender Medhi Benatia is also a doubt because of a knee injury.

Juventus were held by Sevilla to a 0-0 home draw earlier this season, and a loss to the Spanish club in the group stage a year ago left the Italians second in their group.

 

Sevilla have won seven of its last nine matches, with the only setbacks coming in a draw at Sporting Gijon and a home loss to Barcelona.

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