In what will be a tantalizing final in this season’s UEFA Europa League, Sevilla and AS Roma will square off in Budapest. In the second ever meeting in UEFA club competitions between the pair, the stakes could seldom be higher.
A seventh Europa League triumph for Sevilla and a first for Roma is on the line here. Perhaps more importantly, a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage is up for grabs. Here is a look at both clubs’ road to the final, their domestic situation, past meetings and a prediction for the final.
Previous UC/UEL trophies: 6 (2005/06, 2006/07, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2019/20)
Record in Europe this season (record in UEL): 5-4-5 (4-2-2)
Current domestic position (cup finish): 11th (lost in quarterfinals)
For a record-extending seventh time, Sevilla will partake in a UEFA Cup/Europa League showpiece. The most successful team in the competition’s history is playing UC/UEL football for the 17th time ever, making their record even more impressive. In what has overall been a rather mediocre campaign for Sevilla, they still have a shot at ending it with continental glory once again.
Their European season commenced back in September in the Champions League group stage. They hardly convinced there, with a victory over FC København on Matchday 5 being their sole success across the six games. Finishing third behind Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, the Andalusians fell to the Europa League knockout round.
They came to life in the UEL as they always seem to do. Knocking out PSV Eindhoven in the knockout round playoffs, they edged Fenerbahçe in the last 16, before brushing Manchester United aside in the quarterfinals. More work was needed in the semifinals, as they came from behind to beat Juventus in extra time. They have won all four UEL home matches this year, but failed to win any of their matches away from the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán across their seven continental matches this season.
Domestically, things have been disastrous for Sevilla. Los Rojiblancos flirted with relegation for much of the season before picking up more points this calendar year. They also lost to Osasuna in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, further highlighting their domestic disappointments.
Yet, with a round to go in LaLiga, they could still finish seventh and qualify for the Europa Conference League playoff round. Of course, they will play in the Champions League if they win the Europa League. After the UEL final, they head to Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Excluding their defeat of Juventus in the previous round, Sevilla’s last meeting with Italian opposition in Europe came against Inter in the 2019/20 Europa League final. A Romelu Lukaku own goal 16 minutes from time saw the Spanish side triumph once more. That was their most recent Europa League title. Overall, Sevilla holds a 8-3-5 record against Italian sides in UEFA club competitions.
Previous UC/UEL best: Final (1990/91)
Previous European trophies: UEFA Europa Conference League (2021/22)
Record in Europe this season: 7-3-4
Current domestic position (cup finish): 6th (lost in quarterfinals)
A year on from winning the inaugural Europa Conference League title, Roma has the opportunity to do one better. A second crack in a UEFA Cup/Europa League final is where the Giallorossi find themselves. An up-and-down, inconsistent campaign ends with José Mourinho’s side staring at a chance at another title.
Starting in the competition’s group stage, Roma was pitted against Real Betis, Ludogorets and HJK Helsinki. On paper, it looked like the Italian side would be competing with Betis for top spot. It turned out to be quite different, as the Spanish club easily topped the section. Roma, for their part, had to defeat Ludogorets on the final matchday to avoid a return to the Conference League. A 3-1 win at home kept them in the Europa League.
A come-from-behind performance in the knockout playoffs saw them get past RB Salzburg, before a more convincing outing against Real Sociedad in the last 16 saw Roma go through. In the quarterfinals, they once again faced off with Feyenoord, the same team they beat in the UECL last May. A goal moments before the end of the second leg forced extra time, where Roma scored twice more to prevail. Two more clean sheets against Bayer Leverkusen in the semifinals were enough to bring Roma to a second consecutive European final.
Domestically, it has been an interesting season for Roma. Like Sevilla, they fell at the quarterfinals of the cup, losing to Cremonese at home. As for the league, Roma sit sixth after 37 games. A weekend defeat to Fiorentina ensured that the Giallorossi can no longer finish in a Champions League spot via Serie A.
Regardless of Wednesday’s result, Roma will still be in Europe next season. A fifth or sixth place finish will see them return to the Europa League next fall, while dropping to seventh will result in a return to the Conference League. Their last domestic match – also on Sunday – will be at home to relegated threatened Spezia.
Roma’s record against Spanish opposition in Europe is not fantastic. They hold a record of 12-7-20 in their previous outings against Spanish teams. Remarkably, their last matchup against a Spanish side before this season came against Sevilla in the 2019/20 Europa League. The pandemic-plagued season saw the round of 16 tie played over one leg in Germany. Roma lost that game 2-0, exiting the competition.
Other match facts
This is the 17th European final to be contested by sides from Spain and Italy. That includes the European Cup/Champions League, Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup/Europa League, and UEFA Super Cup (excludes Europa Conference League as there has not been a Spain vs Italy final there so far). In the previous 16 occasions where Spanish and Italian teams met in a final, the former came out on top on 10 occasions.
The last time an Italian team prevailed against a Spanish team in a final was when Milan topped Sevilla 3-1 in the 2007 Super Cup. Sevilla’s previously mentioned defeat of Inter in the 2019/20 final was the most recent meeting between Italian and Spanish teams in a European showpiece.
The only other occasion where it was Spain vs Italy in a UEFA Cup/Europa League final was back in 1976/77 between Athletic Club and Juventus. The Bianconeri won on away goals, winning the first leg 1-0 at home before losing the reverse fixture 2-1 away.
As mentioned earlier, Sevilla has never lost any of their previous six UEFA Cup/Europa League finals. On the other side of things, Mourinho has never lost in five European finals where he has been head coach. That includes two UEFA Cup/Europa League triumphs with Porto (2002/03) and Manchester United (2016/17).
Furthermore, Roma is trying to complete the impressive feat of winning two different European trophies in consecutive seasons. Mourinho has already done so with Porto, as they went on to win the Champions League a year on from the UEFA Cup success. The Portuguese manager’s former team Chelsea achieved the same result in reverse order; they won the Champions League in 2011/12 before lifting the Europa League a year later.
Prediction: who will end up on top this time?
Of the three UEFA club competition finals this season, I feel this is easily the most intriguing one of the bunch. The serial Europa League winners versus a Mourinho-led team. This will be a must-watch.
Both teams have reason to feel this season has otherwise been disappointing. In fact, just making this final has saved both clubs’ seasons, particularly Sevilla’s. Add to the fact a Champions League berth for next term is on the line, and the pressure is even higher.
One thing I can say: anyone expecting goals aplenty in this game, you will not see it happen. It would be shocking if either side scored multiple times in this final. Moreover, I can foresee a penalty shootout deciding the match.
Given how both have played in the Europa League, especially in the knockout rounds, this is going to be a defensive display. Expect a very cagey, cautious match from both teams. If I had to go for a scoreline, I would say 0-0 or 1-1, leaning towards the former.
In that case, penalties would decide the winner. I have a gut feeling Roma will step up and hold their nerve. I feel it’s written in the stars they will add a second European trophy to their cabinet. Thus, I am going with the Serie A side on this one.
Regardless of who wins , this will be an incredibly close game, with so much riding on for both Sevilla and Roma.