This Tuesday sees the UEFA Europa League final take place, with Sevilla and Benfica both bidding for glory. While this competition is sometimes overshadowed by its big brother, the Champions League, let’s not forget that some of the biggest clubs in the world have lifted the trophy – with Chelsea being the most recent.
In the build-up to the final, here are ten interesting facts to get your juices flowing ahead of kick-off at the Juventus Stadium.
1. Both clubs started the competition at different stages. In the case of Benfica, they started the season in the Champions League only to finish 3rd in their group and ultimately be placed in the last thirty two of the Europa League. Sevilla on the other hand have been involved the competition from the group stages, and proceeded to the last thirty two after topping Group H.
2. The domestic plight of both clubs is contrasting as well. Benfica have already won the Portuguese Liga title, whereas Sevilla are no fewer than twenty eight points behind the Spanish La Liga leaders as they occupy 5th position.
3. Kévin Gameiro is the top scorer out of both teams, with the Sevilla striker scoring five goals through the course of the competition. Next in line is Carlos Bacca (Sevilla) and Lima (Benfica) – two players who have both scored four times. The likelihood of any of these players grabbing the Golden Boot award for this year’s competition appear to be slim, with Salzburg’s Jonathan Soriano currently leading the charts following a return of eight goals.
4. One of the main reasons for Sevilla’s success in this competition has been their firepower. They are the joint second top scorers in the Europa League, having scored twenty two goals. Benfica in contrast are much more conservative in their play, having hit the back of the net just fourteen times.
5. The referee for this game will be German Felix Brych, who actually acts as a financial lawyer as his “day job". At 38-years-old he has decent European refereeing experience to his name, having officiated more than fifty UEFA matches.
6. There is every chance that Brych could find himself on an even loftier stage next year, if last season’s Europa League final referee is anything to go by. Björn Kuipers has gone one step further this time around and has just been announced as the referee for the Champions League final at the end of the month.
7. The last, and only, time these two sides met in a UEFA competition came all the way back in September 1957. Taking part in the European Champion Club’s Cup, Sevilla progressed to the next round after recording a 3-1 aggregate win over their opponents.
8. Both clubs have two European trophies to their name, although Sevilla have a slightly higher success rate. While the Spaniards have only taken part in two finals, they have won both of them. Benfica on the other hand have been involved in nine finals, losing seven of them. The latest defeat came just twelve months ago, with opponents Chelsea scoring a last minute winner to prevent the Portuguese outfit again.
9. There is every chance that this season will be different though, with Benfica not losing a single game in their quest to the final. No other team in the history of the competition has managed to do this before.
10. The match will be played in Juventus’ stadium in Turin, which is probably one of the “fairest" venues UEFA could have selected. Lisbon is approximately 1550km away from the venue, while Sevilla will travel around 1400km to get there.