Liverpool and Sevilla are hoping to betray their domestic tables by rising into next year’s UEFA Champions League competition with a win in Wednesday’s Europa League final.
Let’s take a look at the numbers and story lines that could matter:
— This is the third consecutive Europa League final contested by Sevilla, the back-to-back defending champions.
— Liverpool’s path to glory was anything but easy, as the Reds took down Borussia Dortmund, Villarreal, Manchester United and Augsburg en route to the final.
— Sevilla’s was slightly easier, having toppled Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, Basel and Molde.
— Kevin Gameiro’s seven goals are the most of either side in tournament play.
— Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool with the Reds having drawn its first two group stage games. Since that point, Liverpool has six wins, five draws and one loss. That came in the first leg of the semifinal at Villarreal.
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— Sevilla has scored and conceded in both legs of both the quarterfinals and semifinals.
— Sevilla played in this venue during the quarterfinals, drawing Basel 0-0 at St. Jakob-Park before eliminating them with a 3-0 win in Spain.
What they’re saying
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “When I came here, there was a big amount of doubt about these players and now I am really happy they could show how strong they are. Tomorrow is a big opportunity to make a final step, not the final step, but the final step in this season. To achieve something great. I am really happy to be here with this club and this team, so let’s try it.”
Sevilla boss Unai Emery: “It could be a match with a very high pace and I think Liverpool will go for it sometimes, as will we. If they want to go that way, we are willing to go that way – no worries. The match will be 50-50 – the way they have played is incredible and they have played against great teams. But we have advantages. We are winners, we have won the title and now we have a chance to win it for a third time in a row.
We — and bettors — called Liverpool the favorites to win the whole thing once the Reds dispatched Borussia Dortmund from the tournament, but Sevilla has the final experience of toppling Benfica in Turin and Dnipro in Warsaw. Expect a tight tilt, with Liverpool winning 2-1 in extra time.