The UEFA Europa League Final will see holders Sevilla defend their title against tournament’s surprise package Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in Wednesday’s Warsaw showdown.
Los Rojiblancos are the more fancied side to win Europe’s secondary premier club competition, having simply steamrolled their opponents on their way to the final in Stadion Narodowy. And perhaps there is no surprise that the Andalusians have been calling the competition as ‘one of their own.’
Sevilla are on the cusp of making history, with no team emerging triumphant four times, and the La Liga club also has a chance to win the competition on successive occasions for the second time.
Dnipro will be without the services of Ukraine International duo Roman Zozulya and Serhiy Kravchenko. Zozulya will miss the final through a knee injury, while veteran Kravchenko has suffered a knock.
Sevilla boast almost a fully-fit squad, apart from the long term injury sustained by defender Nico Pareja.
Dnipro’s creator-in-chief, their playmaker, their go-to man, Yevhen Konoplyanka possesses all the qualities to be a potential match winner. The 25-year-old’s winner has proven decisive twice, netting a winner against Ajax, and cunningly laying down the other against Napoli in the second-leg. Konoplyanka can dazzle past his marker with ease, and attract defenders into making mistakes. He is the tournament’s most fouled man (45 times), and along with captain Ruslan Rotan, the pair are dead-ball experts.
Carlos Bacca possesses astonishing pedigree, and with 26 goals to his name this season, the Colombian has proven yet again why he is one of continents most feared strikers. Bacca cannot be kept out of the game. The former Anderlecht man is quite handy in the air, and equally troublesome getting behind defences with his off the ball runs. With what could be his last game for Sevilla, having linked with a move to Europe’s elite, Bacca needs to deliver on the big occasions like he has done in the past.
Sevilla’s final berth was all but confirmed in the semi-final first leg itself, when they thrashed Fiorentna 3-0. And it was an unlikely source in Aleix Vidal that stabbed in two goals. The former Almeria man was deployed as a right-back, but carried out his defensive duties well; scoring two important goals that helped his side take a big step towards the final. Vidal is expected to start as a winger in the final, to double up with Coke at right-back, in order to stifle the influence of Dnipro’s key man Yevhen Konoplyanka.
– This is the first time Dnipro have reached a major European final. They are the third Ukrainian side to do this, after Dynamo.
– This will be Sevilla’s fourth appearance in a UEFA Cup/Europa League final, having won the previous three in 2006, 2007 and last season.
– Should Los Rojiblancos lift the trophy, they will become the first side to retain the UEFA Cup/Europa League twice.
– They would also be the first side to win four UEFA Cups/Europa Leagues (Juventus, Inter Milan and Liverpool also have three).
– The last two Europa League/UEFA Cup finals to be decided by a penalty shootout have been won by Sevilla (2006/07 and 2013/14).
– Despite both playing 14 games in this competition so far, Sevilla (26) have scored exactly twice as many goals as Dnipro (13).
“If I said the lads weren’t nervous, I’d be lying. But it is very important they forget that tomorrow.”
“I did not imagine we’d get this far. But your appetitie grows when you start eating!”
“I think Napoli are fairly similar to Sevilla in style, which will help us a lot.”
“We can’t deny that we have the chance to write history. Of course we are grateful to have that chance, to be able to pursue this”
“We are aiming to achieve something with this team, with Sevilla. It shouldn’t feel like pressure or stop us from executing our game plan against Dnipro. It will serve more as motivation, like a dream we can achieve.”
“The fact the winners now qualify directly for the Champions League has made it grow even more. Teams have attached more importance to this competition.”
Unchanged from the side that overcame Napoli. Yevhen Seleznyov to keep his place at the expense of Nikola Kalinic.
Unchanged from the side that played in Italy.
Sevilla have the mettle for the big occasions, which would be enough to see them past a spirited Dnipro, who will put up a fight.
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