Who Will Win Friday’s Big Match – The Europa League Final?
The first of the two big UEFA competition finals will be played this Friday at the RheinEnergieStadion in the beautiful city of Cologne in Germany. After more than a year of competition and with the qualifying games for next year’s tournaments already starting to take place, Inter Milan will face Sevilla in the Europa League Final at 8.00pm UK time on Friday evening.
Both teams have excellent records in this competition with Sevilla winning it five times, a record, since 2006, while Inter Milan have three victories, all of which came before Sevilla started their love affair with the competition fourteen years ago.
Both teams came through very different semifinals to reach the final, Inter thrashed the hapless Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 after a fine second half display added to Lautaro Martinez’ early first half goal. In contrast, Sevilla had to battle hard to earn a 2-1 win over Manchester United, weathering plenty of United pressure and hitting the Red Devils on the break to claim their second victory over Premier League opponents in as many games, having beaten Wolves in the quarterfinals.
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Let’s now preview both the teams contesting Friday’s final in Cologne and give you our appraisal of each team, together with how we see the game going and the bets that we would make on the game in order to try and land a winner or two.
Europa League History
Both Inter and Sevilla are amongst the most decorated teams in UEFA Cup and Europa League history, Inter won the old UEFA Cup three times in the 1990s, (1991, 1994 and 1998) and also finished as runner’s up in 1997 and they are, along with Liverpool, Juventus and Atletico Madrid, one of four teams to have won the famous trophy three times.
However, their success is eclipsed by Sevilla, who have won the trophy five times since 2006, winning in 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Every time that they have managed to reach the quarterfinals of this competition, Sevilla have ended up winning it and they will be very confident of doing so once again on Friday.
Despite their excellent records, Inter and Sevilla have never met in the final of this competition previously and they have never met in UEFA competition before either, which will make this game even more interesting on Friday night.
How Did they Reach the Europa League Final?
Inter’s Route to Cologne
Inter qualified for the Champions League but dropped into the Europa League after Christmas after finishing 3rd in their Group behind Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund.
- Champions League Group Stages – 3rd in Group F (7 points from 6 games)* as a result of finishing 3rd in Group F, Inter drop into the Europa League at the Round of 32 stage.
- Round of 32 v Ludogorets – W 4-1 on aggregate (2-0, 2-1)
- Round of 16 v Getafe – W 1-0
- Quarterfinals – v Bayer Leverkusen – W 2-1
- Semifinal v Shakhtar Donetsk – W 5-0
Sevilla’s Route to Cologne
Sevilla entered the Europa League at the league stage and topped their group in the group stage of the tournament to reach the knockout phase.
- Europa League Group Stages – 1st in Group A (15 points from 6 games)
- Round of 32 – v CFR Cluj D 1-1* won on away goals (1-1, 0-0)
- Round of 16 – v AS Roma – W 2-0
- Quarterfinals – v Wolves – W 1-0
- Semifinals – v Manchester United – W 2-1
Records on the Line
There are a couple of exciting records on the line in Friday Night’s game. Sevilla have never lost a Europa League final, winning all five of those they have contested. Inter could break that record with a win on Friday night.
Similarly, Inter striker Romelu Lukaku has scored in all of his last ten games in the Europa League, a run that stretches back to his time as an Everton player. A goal on Friday night would not only keep that record going, but also see him equal Brazilian star Ronaldo’s 34-goal debut season for Inter Milan.
After such solid wins in the semifinals, it is hard to see either team making many changes to their line up. I expect Inter to name an unchanged side, while the fitness of Ocampo may be the only worry for Sevilla, with Munir, on loan from Barcelona, likely to deputise for the Argentinean if he is not fit to play.
Inter Probable Team: (3-5-2) – Handanovic, Godin, De Vrij, Bastoni, D’Ambrosio, Young, Brozovic, Barella, Gagliardini, Lukaku, Martinez.
Sevilla Probable Team: (4-3-3) – Bono, Navas, Reguilon, Carlos, Kounde, Jordan, Fernando, Banega, Suso, En-Nesyri, Ocampos* (if fit, Munir if not fit).
Europa League Final Tips
I can’t see this game being as one-sided as Inter Milan’s semifinal win over Shakhtar Donetsk and in truth, I see this game being more like the Sevilla – Man Utd semi final clash, where the Spaniards defended doggedly and relied on sharp counter-attacks to beat United.
The problem I have with that is that United still created plenty of chances against Sevilla but failed to take them and I don’t think Inter’s strikers will be quite so wasteful in front of goal as United’s were.
As such, I can see Inter scoring a couple of goals here and while I can see Sevilla also finding the net, I don’t think they will score enough to match Inter and take the game into extra time.
I am backing Inter to win this one (6/5), probably by a 2-1 scoreline (11/1). All odds shown were correct with bet365 as of 1.10pm on Tuesday 18th August.