LIVE – Europa League semis: Villarreal vs. Liverpool; Shakhtar vs. Sevilla

AP
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The first legs of the UEFA Europa League semifinals take place on Thursday in Spain and Ukraine.

Premier League outfit Liverpool head to La Liga side Villarreal hoping to get a positive result before the return leg at Anfield next Thursday.

Jurgen Klopp‘s are the favorites to win the Europa League after sensationally getting past his former side Borussia Dortmund at the quarterfinal stage 5-4 on aggregate.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ] 

Villarreal boast the likes of Roberto Soldado and Cedric Bakambu who can cause Liverpool’s defense problems and Klopp will be without central defender Mamadou Sakho for the rest of the season after the French defender was suspended by UEFA for 30 days as an investigation begins into his anti-doping violation.

In the other Europa League semifinal, Ukrainian powerhouse Shakhtar Donetsk host two-time reigning champs Sevilla in Ukraine.

With Shakhtar’s stadium in the city of Donestk destroyed amid the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the fact that they’ve played their entire season in Lviv and away from their fans and still managed to make the final four of the Europa League is an incredible achievement.

Spanish outfit Sevilla have won the Europa League trophy in each of the last two seasons and have won the competition a record four times with all of their success coming in the last 10 years. Kevin Gameiro, Ever Banega and Ukrainian international Yevhen Konoplyanka will all cause Shakhtar problems but after joining the competition at the Round of 32 stage, the Ukrainian side have only conceded twice in six games.

Click on the link above for live score updates from both semifinals, while we will also have reaction and analysis right here on ProSoccerTalk.