Juventus Stadium, Turin
May 14th, 2014; 20:45 CEST
It has come down to Sevilla and Benfica to decide who takes Europe`s second tier competition this season. Both teams have endured a pretty long season and would like to finish it off with a trophy. Benfica, in particular would like to bag this trophy and make it their third piece of silverware this season having already won the Primeira Liga and the Taca da Liga.
Team news and tactics
After Mbia`s stoppage time header which lead to Sevilla`s spectacular win in the semi-finals against Valencia, Unai Emery`s men have every reason to believe that the Europa League is theirs to lose this season. Despite selling most of their star players like Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas to offset their financial troubles, Sevilla have had a decent season this term with a top six finish guaranteed and a Europa League victory would be the icing on the cake for the 2006 and 2007 winners.
After resting the likes of Rakitic, Mbia, Marin and Gameiro in the weekend defeat against Getafe, Unai Emery has a relatively fresh squad to mastermind a European Cup win but will have to contend with the absence of the electric Jairo Samperio. Carrico and Mbia will have to keep a close eye on Benfica`s attackers and stop the trio of Gaitan, Rodrigo and Salvio. Sevilla themselves are a major threat in the attacking front, but will be sweating on the fitness of their top marksman Kevin Gameiro who has 21 goals to his name in all competitions this season. The highly rated Alberto Moreno is a the one to watch out for on the left hand side and his fellow full back on the right, Coke will look to bomb forward as much as possible. Rakitic has been in scintillating form this season and will look to create opportunities for his attackers by playing in the number 10 role. Marin and Vitolo will look to create damage through the flanks and create scoring opportunities for the prolific Gameiro.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Beto(GK); Coke, Pareja, Fazio, Moreno; Carrico, Mbia; Marin, Rakitic, Vitolo; Gameiro
Benfica are having a very special season and they will bag the treble should they manage to win the Europa League on Wednesday night. They will hope to be put the ‘Curse of Bela Guttman’ behind them and look to win their first European Cup for the first time since 1962. Guttman, the legendary Hungarian coach, who signed Eusebio at Benfica, cursed them not to win another European Cup for another 100 years after a pay dispute led to his sacking in 1962. The curse has loomed over Benfica for quite some time now and they have lost seven straight European finals, the latest one being the 2-1 loss to Chelsea last year in Amsterdam.
The Portuguese club goes into this game as favorite despite having to play without to Lazar Markovic, Enzo Perez and Eduardo Salvio, who got themselves booked in the feisty semifinal against Juventus. The manager Jorge Jesus will have to do his job of keeping his players calm and stop them from doing anything hasty like they did against Juve in the last game. Oscar Cardozo will once again form the fulcrum of the Benfica attack and the Paraguayan centre-forward is sure to cause problems to the Sevilla centre-backs. Captain Luisao will once again form an intimidating presence at the back alongside Garay. Gomes, Amorim and Gaitan will look to support the strikers in Cardozo and Lima. It remains a toss- up between Cardozo and Rodrigo as to who starts upfront, but with Cardozo`s experience and his ability to turn up in big games, Jorge Jesus might pick the former to start and the latter as an impact player should the scores be level after 60 or 70 minutes. It should be a fascinating battle between the Benfica attack and Sevilla`s defence. The young Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak is expected to keep his place after a good performance in the semi finals against Juventus.
Expected started line-up (4-4-2): Oblak; Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Siqueira; Djuricic, Gomes, Amorim, Gaitan; Lima, Cardozo.
- Wednesday’s final is the first between the teams since both made UEFA competition debuts in a September 1957 preliminary round of the European Cup. Sevilla won 3-1 at home and advanced after a 0-0 draw in Lisbon.
- Benfica have lost their last seven European finals, the last one being a 2-1 loss to Chelsea in the Europa League final last year.
- Jonathan Soriano is the top goal scorer this season in the Europa Leauge with 8 goals. Kevin Gameiro of Sevilla has 5 and his opponent on Wednesday night, Pedro Lima has 4 goals to his name.
- Sevilla`s last European triumph was in 2007 in the UEFA Cup where they defeated Espanyol on penalties.
- Three of the last five Europa League finals has gone to Iberian clubs.
Player to Watch Out For
Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla)
The Sevilla captain will once again spearhead the attack for his team and will look to finish this season on a high before embarking on the World Cup. This might be his last major final for Sevilla and the Croatian would like to finish his career at the Spanish club with a final parting gift to his fans.
Sevilla 1-2 Benfica
Benfica should have learnt from their mistakes last season and Jorge Jesus` men will be more than determined to seal the treble for the Portuguese champions. They were unlucky to miss out on last year`s Europa League despite dominating for most of the game and will look to finally end the ‘Curse of Bela Guttman’ this year.