The view from Spain: History-makers Sevilla seek another special European moment

Liverpool may boast a proud record in Europe but it is their opponents, Sevilla, who enter the history books tonight.

The view from Spain: History-makers Sevilla seek another special European moment

The Spanish outfit will become the first club to contest the Uefa Cup/Europa League decider for three seasons running when the showpiece gets underway in Switzerland at 7.45pm.

Sevilla have won the tournament four times over the last decade — with each of the finals being memorably exciting.

The La Liga club had gone almost 60 years without winning any trophy at all — European or domestic — before beating Middlesbrough 4-0 in the 2006 decider.

The 2007 and 2014 trophies were won in penalty shootouts against Espanyol and Benfica. Last year, against Dnipro, they were twice behind but won 3-2.

Earlier rounds have also brought excitement through the years. In 2007 they were exiting in the round of 16 when goalkeeper Andres Palop headed an equaliser in the dying seconds.

In 2014 they went through the quarter-finals on penalties at their city rivals Real Betis. In this year’s semis they were outplayed for long periods by Athletic Bilbao before evenutally winning on spot-kicks.

Not all clubs take the competition so seriously, but Sevilla love playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League, sporting director Monchi told The Guardian.

“We owe this competition a huge amount ... and maybe the competition owes us something too,” Monchi said.

“I don’t want to exaggerate, but we’ve given prestige to the tournament by taking it seriously. It’s the poor relation of Europe, but we’ve practically thrown the league to be in the final this year.”

Monchi is the scouting mastermind behind the five different Sevilla sides to make each of the finals.

His ability to spot and nurture talent has seen stars such as Barcelona duo Dani Alves and Ivan Rakitic, AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca and Freddie Kanoute pass through the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan.

He is also the man who negotiated a €20m fee for erratic left-back Alberto Moreno — likely to line up for Liverpool against his old team tonight.

Meanwhile, Sevilla continue to make a profit in the transfer market — being up almost €100m in their last three years of business.

The current side’s main men are top scorer Kevin Gameiro (€7.5m), Argentina international playmaker Ever Banega (€2.5m) and Polish holding midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak (€5.5m).

None of these arrived at Sevilla with big reputations, but all could be heading for much richer clubs this summer.

Tasked with blending these players together into a coherent unit, and pulling off the job very successfully, is Basque coach Unai Emery.

Emery won the Europa League trophy in both his first seasons at Sevilla, and is now one step from being the first man to win three consecutive European trophies with the same club.

“Playing in all these finals and winning these titles generated a lot of emotion which makes this a very special time to be at Sevilla,” Emery said.

“Sevilla are a historic club and have always had good spells, but this period we’re going through right now is full of joy and passion that stem from playing in those finals and winning the titles.”

Earlier this year Sevilla’s name did not quite fit in the Champions League, and they exited at the group stages after losing to Manchester City and Juventus.

But back in the Europa League they are a match for anyone — and their love affair with the competition could well continue tonight in Basel.

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