By Antony jordan
This summer promises a feast of football action with two massive international tournaments as the South American sides clash in the Copa America and Europe’s finest meet in France for the 2016 European Championships, but first we have to conclude the club football activities in Europe. That starts this Wednesday evening as the Europa League comes to a conclusion as St. Jakob-Park, the home of FC Basel, in Switzerland hosts the clash of Liverpool v Sevilla.
The Premier League side are without a European title in Europe for 11 years since they came back from 3-0 down at half time in Istanbul against AC Milan to triumph on penalties but things are very different from the La Primera Liga team. They have won four European titles since that fateful night for Liverpool in 2005 and they come into this final match having won both of the last two Europa League tournaments beating Dnipro from Ukraine last season and Portuguese side Benfica on penalties the season before that. Can they make it three in a row and secure passage to the Champions League for next season as Europa League champions?
Online sportsbook Bet365.com favour the EPL team to win this match in normal time despite Sevilla’s excellent record in this competition in recent times, but their Europa League Final match odds do not suggest that it’ll be all one-way traffic for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Route to the Final:
After a top six finish in the 2014/15 Premier League Liverpool qualified for the group stage of this competition and they were drawn against Swiss side Sion, Russians Rubin Kazan and Bordeaux of Ligue 1. The Merseysiders won two and drew four to top the group and move into the knockout stages where German side Augsburg were eliminated 1-0 on aggregate in the last 32 stage, before things got much tougher for Jurgen Klopp’s side. A 2-0 home win against Manchester United set them on their to a clash with Klopp’s former side Borussia Dortmund and a thrilling end to the tie that saw Liverpool two goals down with the German side having an away goals advantage with just 25 minutes to play at the end of the second leg. Three goals, including an injury time winner from Dejan Lovren, saw Liverpool into the final four stage. The semi-final saw defeat in Spain against Villarreal before another dominant performance and Liverpool moved into the final with a 3-0 home win.
Things were very different for the defending champions as they qualified for the Champions League and started with victory against Borussia Monchengladbach, but found themselves eliminated after four successive defeats, including home and away losses to EPL side Manchester City. Third place in the group saw them return to the Europa League where Norwegian side Molde were beaten despite a second leg defeat. Next up was the hosts of this Europa League Final as Sevilla drew 0-0 at St. Jakob-Park before sending Basel out with a 3-0 home win. Next up came fellow Spaniards Bilbao on penalties before an eight goal tie against Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk saw a 5-3 aggregate victory. Can they do better in this match than they did here earlier this season where they drew 0-0 and finished with ten men?
Both of these sides have been resting players coming into the final stages of the season to ensure that they, firstly, make the final and then have their best players ready for this vital game that will see the winner in the Champions League next season. However, even with this Liverpool have ended the season with two wins and two draws while Sevilla’s last pair of games saw seven goals conceded, and with them having won just two away matches in 2016 we can see why they are the outsiders for this final with the distance that must be travelled.
Despite this Sevilla are more than capable for performing in big matches as they have defeated Barcelona, Real Madrid and Italian champions Juventus during this campaign and they will be confident of digging out another performance in this decider, despite all of these wins coming on home soil. Liverpool have not done so well in the bigger games as they were beaten on penalties in the Capital One Cup Final with Man City earlier this season and while their away form is a little better than that of their opposition they have not beaten anyone above ninth on their travels in the past six months.
For Liverpool they are missing the suspended Sakho and the long term injured Joe Gomez, while striker Divock Origi is rumoured to make a comeback for this clash. There are no other definite injuries for Liverpool, although Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen may only be fit for the bench, and with the flair players of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho more than capable of creating plenty for Daniel Sturridge to score we can certainly see goals from the EPL side.
Sevilla’s side is only dented by a pair of knee injuries with Benoît Trémoulinas missing out on the left of midfield and Danish central midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli is out for the minimum of seven months after suffering a break in the semi-final first leg against Shakhtar. The rest of the squad is fully fit and raring to go, and after being rested they are sure to go all out to score goals and win their third Europa League Final in succession.
Who’ll win it?
As mentioned previously, the Bet365.com match odds suggest that it will be Liverpool that wins this match but having taken a look at all of this data we believe that both of these sides are more than capable of winning this match. Many finals are close and cagey as both sides are wary of losing, but with Liverpool having played a final this season and the club having had a fantastic history of European finals while Sevilla have won two Europa League Finals in a row we cannot see any hesitance or nerves on display in Switzerland.
As a result of this, we do see plenty of attacking football and, as a result of this, we see goals from both sides in what promises to be a thriller of a final. This bet will be our pick of this Europa League Final and we are also backing one of these two sides to lift the trophy too. A case can be made both teams to win this match, but with two successive wins in the competition and the better value in the betting market when asked ‘Who’ll win the Europa League Final?’ we are responding by saying that it’ll be the Spaniards that triumph.
Europa League Final Picks: