Liverpool face off against Sevilla at St. Jakob-Park in Basel with more than a trophy on the line in the Final of the UEFA Europa League. Both teams have the chance to find a backdoor into the Champions League party open for them should they win the final.
Sevilla have the added incentive of being etched into history should they win, for they will become a team that has one the European prize three times in a row. In fact, they will be only the second team to have achieved the same.
Liverpool is set to field a full strength eleven with Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Christian Benteke all figure on the bench. Divock Origi, meanwhile is going to undergo a late fitness check to ascertain as to whether he will play any part in the game having just about made the squad after recovering from an ankle injury which was supposed to have ended his season.
Unai Emery has the luxury of fielding a nearly full strength eleven as well with only Michael Krohn-Dehli and Jose Antonio Reyes missing out, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Steven Nzonzi will set up in midfield with Ever Banega dictating play ahead of them just in behind Kevin Gameiro who will be flanked by Machin Vitolo and Coke on either side.
Liverpool(4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Toure, Moreno; Milner, Can; Coutinho Firmino, Lallana; Sturridge
Sevilla(4-2-3-1): Soria; Escudero, Rami, Carrico, Mariano; Krychowiak, N’Zonzi; Coke, Banega, Vitolo; Gameiro
Liverpool come into the game having drawn their last two games against Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. The Reds have ended their campaign in 8th place in the league and will now look to put their indifferent form behind them in a quest to book a Champions League spot. Liverpool have also won against Watford and Villarreal in their last 5 games with a loss to Swansea making up the form guide.
Last 5 Matches: L-W-W-D-D (Last Match: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Liverpool)
Sevilla ended the La Liga campaign on a similar note to the reds having finished 7th in La Liga. They lost their last game to Athletic Bilbao with their only win in the last 5 games up against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League semi final. During this time Sevilla have also lost to Granada and Espanyol having drawn one away to Shakhtar.
Last 5 Matches: D-L-W-L-L ( Last match: Athletic Club 3-1 Sevilla)
What the Managers Say
Jurgen Klopp ends his season with a game and a chance for a trophy and seems very upbeat about the things to come. He praises his squad and says:
"I came here because I was really convinced about the qualities of these players and this squad, despite the doubts people had. To see how they have reached this final gives me a really good feeling. I am really happy they can show how strong they are and it is a big opportunity to make the final step this season and achieve something.I don't feel the pressure. I cannot change. I feel opportunity."
Unai Emery is aware of Liverpool and the threat they pose in a game of this magnitude and says:
"This is an opportunity to play in a third final and win it to change history and to have our names recorded forever and ever is very motivating. We are winners, we are the champions and we have the possibility to defend our title. Sevilla does not fail when we are really focused."
Daniel Sturridge vs Adil Rami
Daniel Sturridge is the sort of player who is made for these occasions. You do expect a player like him to step up in a game like this and Liverpool will feel ever stronger for his presence.
With a largely injury riddled campaign behind him, the Englishman will look to influence proceedings having scored 12 times in a total of 24 appearances this season with 18 being starts. His record in the Europa League reads 2 goals and an assist in 5 starts this season.
Drawing up battle lines against the English hitman will be Frenchman Adil Rami. The defender has had an indifferent season with form not always on his side but that has little to do with a game like this when all sorts of form goes right out the window. Rami will hope to silence Sturridge to give his team a higher chance of winning.
Kevin Gameiro vs Dejan Lovren
Kevin Gameiro is having quite a season. The Frenchman has 24 goals and 6 assists to his name in 44 appearances across all competitions for Sevilla. 7 of those goals have come in against opposition in the Europa League and he will hope to take the tally to 8 or more when Sevilla face Liverpool.
Gameiro’s goals have been game changing for Sevilla and his pace, power and work rate will be tough to deal with for any defender. Dejan Lovren is not just any defender. Not under Jurgen Klopp, he is not.
The Croatian has been resurgent under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp and will hope to punctuate his rise in the Reds’ lineup with a perfect performance in the final. Gameiro will surely have his work cut out for him.
A special night in Basel and Liverpool reinvigorating their fortunes with a special result is what the world may end up seeing on the night.
Liverpool 2-1 SevillaPublished 18 May 2016, 17:02 IST