In the Europa League final on Wednesday at the Puskas Arena, six time champions Sevilla will play Jose Mourinho‘s Roma team, which is still winless in five continental finals.
Both of the teams, which performed poorly in domestic competition but brilliantly in second tier play in Europe, meet in Budapest, and only one can return home with the trophy.
Sevilla will carry on a proud tradition that has grown stronger in the 21st century as they step out on Wednesday night under the spotlight of the entire continent: their semi final win over Juventus saw them advance to the Europa League final, or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup, for the seventh time; two more times than any other club.
Every time Los Rojiblancos have advanced to the competition’s finals, they have triumphed. Their first victory came in 2006, when current captain Jesus Navas contributed to winning the cup at the young age of 20, after Sevilla defeated Middlesbrough’s challenge.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 30, 2023
The most successful team in tournament history will go to Hungary to play in the country’s first European final since 1985 to wrap up a difficult 2022/23 season. The most recent victory came three years ago.
Sevilla’s performance in the semifinals included a 25th victory from their past 28 Europa League games at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, but they must now demonstrate their mettle on neutral ground against extremely obstinate opponents.
The Andalucian team has had a challenging domestic season, similar to Roma, but to a greater extent, and they travel to the east with modest Basque manager Jose Luis Mendilibar as their third coach of the season. Sevilla has avoided the possibility of being demoted from La Liga because to his calming presence, and their circumstances have noticeably improved since his hiring.
Sevilla has only lost twice under Mendilibar’s leadership, most recently on the penultimate matchday of the Primera Division to Real Madrid. Despite the possibility that they will still finish outside of the top half in Spain, Sevilla is just one victory away from capturing their seventh European championship.
The only previous match between Sevilla and Roma saw the Spanish team advance from the Europa League’s last 16 in 2020, before going on to win the trophy for a sixth time. If Sevilla wins in Budapest, only five clubs will have won more major European trophies.
Mendilibar, who will play in his debut European championship game, will be looking for Sevilla’s fortunate number seven, while Jose Mourinho has already collected five significant UEFA championships.
If Roma wins this week, Mourinho will surpass Italian master Giovanni Trapattoni as the most decorated manager in the illustrious history of European competition. Additionally, after helping the Giallorossi win the inaugural Europa Conference League trophy last year, Mourinho would become the first manager to win the Europa League with three different clubs, joining victories with Porto (2003) and Manchester United (2017).
Roma will compete in their sixth European final overall on Wednesday, with their most recent victory being against Feyenoord in Tirana at this time last year, despite the fact that the Eternal City side fell to Inter in their lone UEFA Cup final appearance back in 1991.
A team that advanced through the fall group stage before eliminating Red Bull Salzburg, Real Sociedad, Feyenoord (again), and semi-final losers Bayer Leverkusen might yet win the continent’s championships in consecutive seasons, despite some dreadful recent form in Italy.
Young Roman Edoardo Bove‘s goal at Stadio Olimpico gave the former team the victory. The first-leg advantage was tenaciously held in Germany seven days later, a Mourinho masterclass in bus parking.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 30, 2023
After losing 2-1 to fellow European finalist Fiorentina last weekend, Roma, who is currently sixth in Serie A with one game left, can only finish fifth. The stakes are extremely high this week because some have even accused the Giallorossi of tanking during a run that included three losses and four home draws.
Naturally, the champions of the Europa League receive automatic qualification for the 2023/24 Champions League group stage. Mourinho looks to have staked his reputation on things going well at the Puskas Arena.
Yassine Bounou, who has been Sevilla’s cup goalkeeper ever since Jose Luis Mendilibar moved to Andalucia, will take Marko Dmitrovic‘s position in goal as the Spanish team makes significant adjustments from the squad that lost to Real Madrid on Saturday.
Despite the fact that Marcos Acuna is suspended and Tanguy Nianzou and Marcao are both still questionable due to injuries, Mendilibar still has a wide range of choices.
Jesus Navas, who will captain the club from right back in a likely 4-2-3-1 formation, turns 37 years and 191 days old on Wednesday. being a result, he should surpass David Weir, who started the 2008 UEFA Cup or Europa League final for Rangers at age 38, being the oldest outfield player to do so.
Youssef En-Nesyri, a fellow World Cup star of Bounou’s, moves up front in place of Rafa Mir. The Moroccan striker scored once against Juventus in the semifinals and again when Los Rojiblancos defeated Manchester United in the quarterfinals.
Despite long standing worries, it appears like Roma’s star player Paulo Dybala will be available in Budapest as well after receiving the club’s medical staff’s approval. The erratic attacker should at least be well enough for a substitute appearance after recovering from an ankle injury sustained against Atalanta last month.
Only Rick Karsdorp and Marash Kumbulla are expected to miss the final because Leonardo Spinazzola, who began full training at the beginning of the week, is also expected to return in time.
A number of important players will return after Jose Mourinho made his intentions clear by fielding a depleted squad in Florence, showing that Wednesday’s match will be an all or nothing event.
Lorenzo Pellegrini, who has been directly involved in eight Europa League goals this season, will captain Roma in the Hungarian capital. Nemanja Matic, goalkeeper Rui Patricio, and the others did not travel to Tuscany at the weekend.
Possible starting lineup for Sevilla
Bounou, Navas, Bade, Gudelj, Telles, Fernando, Rakitic, Ocampos, Torres, Gil and En-Nesyri.
Possible starting lineup for AS Roma
Patricio, Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez, Celik, Cristante, Matic, Spinazzola, Pellegrini, El Shaarawy and Abraham.
We predict: Sevilla 0-1 Roma (after extra-time)
Sevilla’s form is unquestionably more superior heading into Wednesday’s grand finale than Roma’s, who have lost steam in Serie A and are relying entirely on their success in Europe.
The La Liga team also has more attacking options at their disposal, but Mourinho’s team can defend desperately and score from set pieces, and that might be enough to give the obstinate Giallorossi more hardware.