Sevilla players celebrate winning the 2015 Europa League

Sevilla have won the Europa League, previously the Uefa Cup, four times in their past 10 attempts

Liverpool will attempt to secure their first major piece of European silverware for 11 years when they take on Sevilla in the Europa League final in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Sevilla finished seventh in Spain’s La Liga, 39 points behind champions Barcelona, yet cannot stop winning in the Europa League and are looking to win the trophy for a fifth time since Liverpool’s Champions League win in 2005 – and the third time in a row.

But who is their main threat? Why are they so good in this competition? Who is the mastermind behind their Europa League success?

Here, we take a look at what awaits Jurgen Klopp’s Reds at St Jakob-Park.

Liverpool v Sevilla Europa league form this season graphic
Sevilla started this season in the Champions League so have only played eight games in this season’s Europa League, compared with Liverpool’s 14

Europa kings

Sevilla earned a place in this season’s Champions League group stage with a successful defence of their 2014 Europa League triumph – one that ended with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Ukrainian side Dnipro in Warsaw, Poland 12 months ago.

A 3-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach suggested Los Sevillistas could make an impression and advance to the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition.

It wasn’t to be, however, as four straight defeats saw them eliminated from Group D, which also contained Manchester City and Juventus, although the third-placed did send them back in their favourite tournament.

 

Sevilla’s Europa League love affair
2006: Final v Middlesbrough won 4-0 in Eindhoven
2007: Final v Espanyol won 3-1 on penalties (2-2 after extra time) in Glasgow
2014: Final v Benfica won 4-2 on penalties (0-0 after extra time) in Turin
2015: Final v Dnipro won 3-2 in Warsaw

 

Sevilla have owned the Europa League in recent years, with their back-to-back triumphs in the past two seasons following in the footsteps of consecutive wins in 2006 and 2007.

“Everyone connected with Sevilla thoroughly enjoys taking part in this competition, and I’ve always encouraged everyone to approach it with the passion it deserves,” said boss Unai Emery.

Since their first European triumph in 2006, Sevilla have also won the domestic Copa del Rey twice, and will have another chance to lift that trophy when theyface Barcelona in the final at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon on 22 May.

That’s no accident because Sevilla have fielded some fabulous players in the past decade, including Barcelona pair Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitic, as well as prolific strikers in their prime such as Luis Fabiano, Frederic Kanoute, Alvaro Negredo and Carlos Bacca.

The club’s sporting director Monchi has been showered with praise for his ability to repeatedly build high-quality squads packed with ambitious players who are on an upward curve – and the silverware has been fully deserved.

The goal threat

Last season it was Carlos Bacca who was Sevilla’s main goal threat. The 29-year-old Colombia international’s departure to AC Milan has seen Kevin Gameiro step up to become the forward the opposition fear most.

Half of Sevilla’s 14 Europa League goals this season have come from the former Paris St-Germain player, who has proved influential since moving to Spain three years ago.

The 29-year-old France international marked his first season in La Liga with 15 goals and has followed it up with another 24 since.

Gameiro’s goalscoring form is excellent, but his biggest asset to the team is his insatiable work rate – and it makes him the kind of player who is a real pain for defenders.

Though he is not particularly physically imposing, Gameiro is fast, strong, has great balance, shows intelligent movement and never stops running. He also has the happy goalscorer’s instinct of finding space inside a congested penalty area.

Daniel Sturridge v Kevin Gameiro graphic
Kevin Gameiro’s Europa League statistics this season are impressive – seven goals in eight appearances. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, who has fewer minutes on the pitch, has two goals in seven appearances

Considering the form he has showed this season and the controversial omission of Karim Benzema, it is somewhat surprising that Gameiro has beenFrance squad for their home European Championship this summer.

But it could still be a busy summer for Gameiro because he has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, who are looking for an experienced striker to offer cover and competition for Luis Suarez.

“He has a fantastic turn of pace to get away from players and he’s very good at getting shots away quickly – a really sharp finisher,” said Emery.

“He puts the first line of pressure on the opposition, with his speed and ability in transitions. That’s very positive for the team.”

The boss

Emery does not always get the credit he deserves. He really should be regarded as an elite manager considering the success he has enjoyed throughout his career.

After starting out by leading lowly Lorca and Almeria to promotion, he guided cash-strapped Valencia to three consecutive third-place finishes in La Liga – and the scale of that achievement is underlined by how much they have struggled since he departed in 2012.

The 44-year-old Spaniard then had a brief and unsuccessful stint with Spartak Moscow before returning to Spain with Sevilla, where he has kept the team in the top half of the league as well as masterminding their cup successes.

Sevilla boss Unai Emery
Unai Emery spent most of his playing career in Spain’s second tier before being forced to retire at the age of 32 because of a knee injury

He was strongly tipped to move to AC Milan last summer before eventually rejecting the Italian giants – but his work with the Andalusians will surely earn him more big-name suitors before long.

While he was at Valencia, Emery worked with Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata before the player moved to Chelsea in August 2011, as well as David Silva, now at Manchester City.

West Ham reportedly wanted Emery before Slaven Bilic was appointed, while Everton have also been linked with the former midfielder since Roberto Martinez was sacked.

Emery is an expert video editor as well as a football obsessive and does not employ a video analyst. Instead he edits footage of his side’s opponents himself.

Sevilla’s Europa League record over past three seasons
Season Played Won Drawn Lost For Against
2015/16 8 4 2 2 14 7
2014/15 15 11 3 1 29 14
2013/14 15 7 5 3 22 14
TOTAL 38 22 10 6 65 35

Big game specialists

Sevilla have endured a fairly disappointing season in La Liga to finish seventh, but that’s mainly because they have suffered a series of disappointing results against lower-ranked opposition.

In the big games they have been excellent, beating Barcelona,Real Madridand fourth-placed Villarreal at home – and they also defeated Juventus in the Champions League group stage on their own turf.

Their route to the final has included impressive wins over La Liga rivals Athletic Bilbao and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Europa League 2015/16 – leading scorers
Aritz Aduriz Athletic Bilbao 10
Cedric Bakambu Villarreal 9
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Borussia Dortmund 8
Kevin Gameiro Sevilla 7

However, Liverpool will be encouraged by Sevilla’s poor form away from their Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan home.

They were the only team in La Liga not to win on their travels in 2015-16, while their away success in the Europa League was a 2-1 victory in Bilbao.

Strong midfield

Emery and his highly regarded sporting director Monchi have built an extremely strong squad with plenty of depth, and that is particularly the case in midfield where a wide range of options are available to support Gameiro.

Perhaps the most important player is the talented Argentina international Ever Banega, who is enjoying a real renaissance after being rescued from a frustrating spell at Valencia when he joined Sevilla two years ago.

How Liverpool and Sevilla got to the Europa League final

With Banega pulling the strings, attacking penetration is offered by former Arsenal man Jose Antonio Reyes, Spain international Vitolo, the versatile Vicente Iborra and gifted Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka.

Although he often only appears from the bench, the ace in the pack could prove to be Konoplyanka, who is Sevilla’s most naturally talented player. His ability to cut in from the left wing to shoot, or deliver dangerous balls into the box from either flank, makes him a real potential match winner.

There is another familiar name in the shape of Steven Nzonzi, the former Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City midfielder.

The 27-year-old Frenchman has been a regular starter during Sevilla’s Europa League campaign – despite being sent off three times this season.

europa
Liverpool and Sevilla are set to clash in the final of the Europa League, after they eliminated Villarreal and Shakhtar Donetsk respectively on Thursday night.

The stakes will be high at St-Jakob Park in Basel later this month, as both teams have finished outside of their domestic top fours, so the winner will qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Liverpool had a difficult task against Villarreal after losing the first leg 1-0 at El Madrigal, but a dominant showing saw them win 3-0 at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp sent his team out guns blazing, and they were up one within ten minutes as Bruno Soriano scored an own goal.

Daniel Sturridge rewarded his manager’s faith in him by putting the Merseysiders into the lead on the one-hour mark, while Villarreal’s hopes of a comeback were dashed when visiting defender Victor Ruiz was sent off.

Adam Lallana scored from close range in the 81st minute to send the home fans into rapture and ensure Liverpool progressed to the final.

It gives Klopp the chance to win the silver cup in his first season leading the English club.

Liverpool will face the reigning champions Sevilla, after the Spaniards made short work of Shakhtar, winning the second leg 3-1 to record a 5-3 aggregate victory.

The fate of both teams was on a knife edge following the 2-2 draw in Ukraine, but Unai Emery’s crew wasted little time in taking the lead at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, as Kevin Gameiro scored after only nine minutes.

Skakhtar forward Eduardo evened the score for the visitors just before halftime, but Sevilla put in a dominant performance in the second half.

Goals from Gameiro and right-back Mariano ensured victory for the La Liga team, victors of the Europa League for the last two years in a row.

europa-

Liverpool has a proud record in European competitions and will hope to add another continental crown, while Sevilla can go down in history as the first team to win the second-tier tournament on three consecutive occasions.

 

Source: https://www.rt.com/sport/342001-liverpool-sevilla-europa-league-final/

Champions League Final 2016: Date, Venue, Predictions for Real Madrid V Atletico

Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid will meet in the 2016 UEFA Champions League final on Saturday, May 28, at the historic San Siro Stadium in Milan—as manager Diego Simeone’s men look to win the trophy after coming runners-up two years ago against their city foes.

Gareth Bale had an important say for Los Blancos as they beat Manchester City 1-0 at the Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday, with the Welshman’s cross deflecting off Fernando and looping over goalkeeper Joe Hart for the win.

The Rojiblancos progressed on Tuesday in Germany after eliminating Bayern Munich on away goals, losing 2-1 on the night—but advancing after a 2-2 aggregate result in their favour.

Preview and Prediction

The upcoming Champions League final offers fans the classic clash of styles as Atletico take on Real in Italy.

Atletico have had a tremendous season, whether they end their season with silverware or not. The club are still challenging in La Liga—a solitary point behind leaders Barcelona—but it’s against their neighbours which now represents their best chance of glory in a one-off match to crown the kings of European football.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

 

Diego Simeone’s team went to Bayern and produced a rear-guard action that the German side couldn’t defeat over two legs, and manager Pep Guardiola was left with bad memories as he departs the Bundesliga champions for the Premier League.

Atleti have created the perfect balance between defence and attack, neither relying on the firepower of Antoine Griezmann too much, while keeping a cacophony of clean sheets at home and abroad.

However, Griezmann’s addition has seen Simeone’s unit become a devastating counterattacking machine, concentrating on guile rather than raw pace.

Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

 

The France international has hit 28 goals in La Liga and Europe this term, according to WhoScored.com, and his presence ensures Simeone has a world-class finisher in his team.

Real made hard work of City over two legs and needed an own goal to buy them a shot at an 11th European Cup triumph.

Despite Atleti’s unerring drive and willpower, Real suffer with an obsession for the Champions League, and even though they have played second fiddle to Simeone’s side for most of the campaign, they are a different beast in a one-game affair.

The failure of Real’s superstars after La Decima will not have been forgotten by the squad, as ex-boss Carlo Ancelotti paid the ultimate price by surrendering his job, but Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo now have a chance to atone for past results with a European trophy as the tonic to refocus the club under their latest manager tasked to carry on consistent success.

JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

 

If Simeone bolts the stable door in Milan and looks to counterpunch Real, his side have a real chance of causing an upset.

However, an Atleti win will not be against the form book as a revitalised Fernando Torrespartners Griezmann in an effective attack.

Real are the team with this competition firmly in their DNA, but their luck has to run out one day soon. Los Blancos have defensive questions hanging over their heads, and Atletico are well positioned to exploit their shortcomings as the team that knows the Galacticos best.

Source: Bleacher Report (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2637948-champions-league-final-2016-date-venue-predictions-for-real-madrid-v-atletico#)