Europa League Final: Who to bet on?
One of Europe's most exciting soccer tournaments is impossible to ignore! The UEFA Europa League is the second tier of the UEFA Cup, played by teams from different countries that have won the Conference League, finished 5th and 6th in their leagues, or were eliminated from the Champions League.
This article briefly reviews the tournament's history, recalling the most striking confrontations and seasons of the 2022/2023 finalists. It's all about soccer, so enjoy!
🤩Also, check out the little surprise at the end of the article.
Historical background on the Europa League
For 52 years, the UEFA Europa League has given clubs from all over Europe the opportunity to compete against each other. Until the 2009/10 season, the tournament was known as the UEFA Cup and was established in 1971.
The Fairs Cup was founded in 1955, two weeks after the creation of the European Champions Cup, and was the forerunner of both the Europa League and the UEFA Cup. This Cup began as a series of friendly matches between cities in different countries to promote trade between them.
In 1971, London's Tottenham Hotspur won the trophy and the title of UEFA Cup champion. This purely English finale marked the beginning of a long journey of fighting for the championship, even if it was of the second order. In its 50-year history, the UEFA Cup has had many winners, including six-time champions Sevilla, Inter, Liverpool, Juventus, and Atletico Madrid (3 titles each).
During that period, there were many organizational and qualifying changes to the format of the tournament itself, as well as the creation and demise of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Intertoto Cup. However, 2009 marked the beginning of a new era that continues to this day.
Modern format of the Europa League
From the 2009/10 season, the tournament was renamed the UEFA Europa League. The new format featured three qualifying rounds, after which teams joined the already selected squads in the group stage. The league consisted of 12 groups, with four teams in each group. A total of 8 teams entered the winners, and the group was relegated from the Champions League to the 1/8 Final. The last stage was a standard two-game playoff, and the final was a one-game playoff.
The first match of the reformatted Europa League kicked off the exciting moments. In the 2010 final, Atlético Madrid defeated Fulham 2-1 to become the tournament's first champion.
But the Europa League has its titans. The 1998 final between Lazio and Inter ended in a landslide victory for the Milan team. Inter's brilliant triumph in the UEFA Cup for the first time in 10 years gave the Italian giants confidence for the future and paved the way for young star Ronaldo. He scored a goal alongside the legendary Zanetti and Zamorano.
Returning to the titans, it is impossible not to mention the star participant of the tournament - Spanish Sevilla.
The multiple champions finished strongly in 2007 and 2016. In 2007, the Rojiblancos became only the second team to defend the UEFA Cup after Real Madrid in 1985 and 1986.
They did so in a match against Espanyol. But led by coach Juande Ramos, the team fought to the last moment, and they were grateful to their goalkeeper Andres Palop, who scored a long-range goal and saved from Luis Garcia and Marc Torrejon in the penalty shootout. In the 2016 final against Liverpool, Sevilla turned the tide in their favor in the second half thanks to goals from Unai Emery's side.
What do you need to know about the UEL final?
The final of the Europa League will take place in Budapest on the 31st of May. 🇪🇸 Sevilla and 🇮🇹 AS Roma will meet in the last game at the end of the season. This is a landmark match for both clubs, with the Rojiblancos challenging for another league title and the Giallorossi reaching this stage of the UEL for the first time. The motivation of both clubs to be Europa League winners and Champions League participants is incredible.
Kings of soccer in the Europa League
Sevilla keeps repeating that the season was unsuccessful due to their relegation from LaLiga and wants to make amends by winning their favorite tournament. Their sporting director Monchi even talks about his obsession with the Europa League. So it is an honor for the Rojiblancos to try to win their 7th title in this tournament, especially when the coach of the most successful club in league history is Jose Luis Mendilibar. Despite Sevilla having gone through three coaches this season, only Jose has been able to send them to Budapest.
Despite winning all four of their UEFA Europa League home games this season, the Rojiblancos have failed to win on the road. They are yet to record a European victory away from the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan since their sixth-round clash with Rennes.
Giallorossi go all-in
A chance for revenge, that's how AS Roma's mood will be heading into the final on the 31st of May. They reached the Europa League in two ways, finishing sixth in Serie A and winning the UEFA Conference League last year. Under heavyweight Jose Mourinho's leadership, the team is expected to be a contender for a place in the UEFA top flight.
Mourinho. Being a specialist, he is dangerous for Giallorossi's rivals. He has won the UEFA Champions League with Porto and Inter, and last season became the first coach to win every major UEFA club trophy. This season, Mourinho aims to become the first coach to collect trophies with three different clubs after winning the UEFA Cup with Porto (2002/03) and the Europa League with Manchester United (2016/17).
Time to pay off old scores
These two finalists have met only once in UEFA competitions. In the 1/8th final of the UEFA Europa League for the 2019/20 season, Sevilla, led by coach Julen Lopetegui, defeated Roma Fonesca with a score of 2-0. But revenge should be served cold, right?
The final will therefore pit the king of the competition, the Rojiblancos, against Mourinho's dark horse, the Giallorossi. Who knows what strategies will be in place on the field, but one thing is clear: there will be no escape from such a battle. So will we praise the king, or will we have to change the flags?
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