WARSAW: Sevilla can become the first side ever to win four Europa League or UEFA Cup titles when the holders face a Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk side playing in their first major European final on Wednesday.
Moreover, victory would also secure direct qualification to next season’s Champions League having missed out by just a point to Valencia in the battle for fourth place in La Liga.
“The growth that the team has experienced is thanks to what we feel for the Europa League,” said Sevilla boss Unai Emery. “It means something. The team want the fans to feel the vibrations that this competition gives us. We’ve achieved something that makes us bigger, it gives us prestige, it gives us a place in history and recognition in Europe for our hard work.”
In contrast to the late goals and two penalty shootouts that led them to glory in last season’s Europa League, Emery’s men have been rampant this campaign losing just once in 14 games and scoring 26 goals in the process.
‘We want to show our best in the final’
Dnipro’s unlikely road to Warsaw has been far more hard-fought as the Ukrainians have won just seven of their 16 matches in reaching the final.
However, having already upset the likes of Olympiakos, Ajax and Napoli, coach Myron Markevich is prepared for his side’s stiffest task yet in the Polish capital.
“We’ve studied Sevilla’s matches in the national championship and Europa League thoroughly,” said Markevich. “They’re very strong opponents. I consider Sevilla to be among Europe’s 10 strongest clubs. I expect a very hard encounter in Warsaw, but we want to show our best in the final.”
Dnipro maintained their hopes of Champions League qualification through the Ukranian league with a 3-2 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk at the weekend despite Markevich resting a number of key players ahead of the final.
Yet, they could be without striker Yevhen Seleznyov, who scored both goals in the 2-1 aggregate semi-final win over Napoli, as he is a doubt with a knee injury.
Other than long-term injury absentees Nico Pareja and Sebastian Cristoforo, Sevilla have a clean bill of health with Timothee Kolodziejczak and Vitolo expected to be fit despite missing Saturday’s 3-2 win at Malaga due to injury.
And the Spaniards could have the local fans on their side too with Polish international Grzegorz Krychowiak set to start in midfield.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2015.
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