Thursday Kickoff: Sevilla win Europa League; Arsenal preparing Benzema bid; and more

Thursday Kickoff: Sevilla win Europa League; Arsenal preparing Benzema bid; and more

South American Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Sevilla win Europa League; Arsenal preparing Benzema bid; and more

SevillaCelebrateEuropaLeague2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

For the third time in club history, Sevilla have won the UEFA Europa League.

In the final against Benfica where both goalkeepers starred at Juventus Stadium in Torino, penalty kicks were needed to decide a game that finished 0-0 after 120 minutes of action. Ironically, Portuguese goalkeeper Beto played the hero for Spanish club Sevilla as they took down their Portuguese opposition in dramatic fashion, winning 4-2 in the penalty kick shootout.

It’s the second straight season that Benfica have lost the Europa League final.

Benfica will rue their multitude of missed chances during the opening 90 minutes, coming closest just before halftime through Rodrigo, though Lima, Ezequiel Garay, and Maxi Pereira all came close too.

In the penalty kick shootout, Sevilla scored all four of their spot kicks while Beto came up with two huge saves on penalty kicks from Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo.

Sevilla won Europe’s secondary cup competition in 2006 and 2007, back when it was still called the UEFA Cup.

Here are some more news to start off your Thursday:

ARSENAL TARGET BENZEMA ONCE MORE

Arsenal are in the market for a new target-forward, despite what Arsene Wenger might say about not needing to strengthen this summer.

According to reports in England, Arsenal are preparing a £30 million bid for Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema, who is heading into the final 12 months of his contract. There’s some thought that Madrid could sell Benzema this summer, especially if they feel that there’s a chance for them to sign Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

Wenger has attempted to sign Benzema each of the last two summers, being rebuffed by the Real Madrid management both times. If Wenger is denied a third time, he could try and sign Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic, according to the report.

This past season, Benzema has 24 times in all competitions, with 17 of those goals coming in La Liga.

MAN UNITED DELAY VAN GAAL ANNOUNCEMENT UNTIL NEXT WEEK

Manchester United have decided to delay their appointment of Louis Van Gaal as the club’s newest head coach for another week.

Van Gaal, currently the head coach of the Netherlands National Team, is preparing for a friendly match on Saturday against Ecuador and though terms have reportedly been agreed in principle, Man United have decided to respect Van Gaal’s preparation for the match and have delayed an announcement until next week.

Ryan Giggs is expected to remain at Man United, likely operating as Van Gaal’s top assistant. Pictures emerged on Wednesday of Giggs leaving a hotel in the coastal town of Noordwijk, which is where Van Gaal lives. Giggs was reportedly on his way to meet Van Gaal at the manager’s home when the pictures were taken.

SPAIN’S THIAGO RULED OUT OF THE WORLD CUP

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara’s dream of playing at the 2014 World Cup has been dashed.

The 23-year-old Spanish international suffered a set-back in his recovery from an MCL injury he picked up in late March, according to reports in Germany, and will not recover in time to feature for Spain at the World Cup. The reports state that he’s suffered a reoccurrence of the injury and could be sidelined up to 11 weeks, putting the start of the 2014/2015 season in doubt.

It’s the third major injury Thiago has picked up while on Bayern Munich’s books. After completing a €25 million transfer from Barcelona, the Spanish-Brazilian midfielder tore ankle ligaments during a match in late August and didn’t return until early November.

Thiago had been included in Spain’s 30-man preliminary World Cup squad but will now miss the tournament.

QUICK KICKS

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona are linked with Juventus star Arturo Vidal, though it would take a bid of at least €40 million to sign the Chilean National Team powerhouse. (REPORT)

Colombia forward Radamel Falcao’s father believe’s with less than 30 days until the start of the World Cup, his son is only 60 percent ready to return to action. (REPORT)

Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo has commented that he hopes Antonio Conte remains with the club for another two seasons and that Pirlo’s extension has been agreed and an announcement should be forthcoming. (REPORT)

Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku could be offered a new contract by Chelsea that includes one more season on loan at Everton. (REPORT)

Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri may retire from international play after being left off France’s World Cup squad. (REPORT)

Liverpool are preparing to bid £15 million this summer for Sevilla left back Alberto Moreno. (REPORT)

Newly hired Stuttgart manager Armin Veh wants to bring Spanish-German forward Joselu to the club from Eintracht Frankfurt. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you feel Sevilla were deserved winners? Do you believe Arsenal have a chance to sign Benzema? Do you believe Thiago would have made the Spain squad if not injured? Should Real Madrid or Barcelona try and sign Vidal this summer?

Share your thoughts below.

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