The stage is set in Basel at the St Jakob-Park stadium for two of Europe’s most successful nations in Uefa competition.
Of course Liverpool’s already world famous as one of the greatest European clubs, winning 11 Uefa trophies in total. Not as famous, we have Sevilla who deserve a lofty status since they’re the most successful club ever in the Europa League.
The only reason this is not the case is that the competition’s status wasn’t respected high enough when the Uefa Champions League expanded for the last two decades. Many top clubs never took the Uefa Cup seriously ever since multiple teams from the top nations participated in the UCL.
It’s all changing over the past year, only because the winners of the Europa League are now awarded an automatic spot in the Champions League. For the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, this competition should then have precedence ahead of domestic Cups, unlike previous years.
Previous Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers never heeded this call, as he focused on two domestic Cups, losing in the semi-finals of both last season. Perhaps he didn’t believe in his ability to take on Europe, failing against clubs from lesser football leagues such as Bulgaria, Turkey and Switzerland.
New coach Jurgen Klopp has changed all that, instilling a strong belief that Liverpool can beat anyone. Gone is the attitude where Rodgers fielded a weak team against Real Madrid, expecting to lose. This Reds team beat Dortmund, Manchester United and Villarreal on the road to Basel. Sevilla’s had it relatively easier against Sparta Prague and Shakhtar, but their experience in winning the two previous Europa League’s is what will give them a psychological advantage for finals. They’ve done it before, while Klopp lost his previous Uefa final, the UCL final against Bayern Munich. Though, Sevilla also won the competition twice in a row a decade ago, and back then also failed to make it a hat-trick of titles.
The big talking point for Wednesday night’s final is on the starting line-up. Daniel Sturridge is expected to retain his position to lead the attack, ahead of Firmino, Adam Lallana and Coutinho should then be in attacking midfield. Then Emre Can and James Milner in central midfield. Captain Jordan Henderson has worked hard to be fit for this game, and he could come on as a substitute late on.
The same can be said for Divock Origi or Danny Ings, but we’d have to see if Christian Benteke might be preferred as a supersub who offers something different. With Mama Sakho suspended, Kolo Toure should partner Dejan Lovren at the back, then the usual suspects Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno as the wing-backs with Simon Mignolet in goal.
Expected Sevilla line-up: David Soria; Mariano, Rami, Carriço, Escudero; Krychowiak, N’Zonzi; Coke, Banega, Vitolo; Gameiro.