Massive game ahead in Basel for Reds
Liverpool travel to Basel tonight to play Sevilla in a huge Europa League final.
They’ve cleared every hurdle put up against them so far, knocking out teams such as Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United, and made the final after beating Villarreal 3-1 on aggregate, blowing the Spanish side away at Anfield.
Sevilla, on the other hand, are back-to-back champions of this competition, beating Dnipro 3-2 in Warsaw last year, and winning 4-2 on penalties against Benfica in Turin in 2014.
From a Liverpool point of view, their belief should be incredibly high. Despite only managing to finish 8th in the league after Jurgen Klopp’s arrival, they have put on some incredible displays that have dazzled England and Europe. They embarrassed Manchester City and Chelsea away from home in the league, and managed and astonishing comeback at home against Borussia Dortmund, to win the quarter final tie 5-4 on aggregate.
Sevilla finished 7th in La Liga, 12 points behind Villarreal in the Champions League places, so are also pinning all their hopes on tonight to get into the competition. They beat Shakhtar Donetsk 5-3 on aggregate to reach the final tonight, comfortably cruising past the Ukranian side 3-1 at home after drawing the first left 2-2.
However, they’ve lost their final 3 La Liga games this season, being battered 4-1 at home to Granada just last week, they’ll have to dig deep to get past a Liverpool side who have lost just once since the end of March.
This is the first ever meeting between Liverpool and Sevilla.
Both sides have a perfect record of winning every UEFA cup final they’ve played in, a record one of these teams will sacrifice tonight.
Sevilla are the most successful team in the competition, but victory for Liverpool tonight would see them draw level with Sevilla’s record, which is 4.
Sevilla haven’t won outside of Spain all season, whereas Liverpool have only lost 1 European game all season, the first leg of the semi-final away to Villarreal.
Liverpool have never scored more than one European goal away from Anfield this season.
Jordan Henderson, Divock Origi and Danny Ings are all passed fit to return to the Reds’ squad, however Ings is not eligable to play as he was not chosen in Liverpool’s European squad due to his long-term injury. This means, apart from Mamadou Sakho, who is suspended, Jurgen Klopp has practically a fully-fit team to select from, a luxury that has alluded him for the majority of the season.
Henderson made a 25-minute appearence on Sunday for Liverpool, against West Brom in their final league game of the season, while Origi did not play but has been passed fit.
Sevilla, meanwhile, arrive in Switzerland with no new injury concerns or returns to worry about.
Liverpool predicted starting XI (4-4-2): Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Toure, Moreno, Lallana, Can, Milner, Coutinho, Firmino, Sturridge
Sevilla predicted starting XI (4-2-3-1): Soria, Mariano, Rami, Carrico, Tremoulias, Krychowiak, N’zonzi, Coke, Banega, Vitolo, Gameiro
It’s a massive game and it’s a tough one to call, but with the addition of the injured players making a return for Liverpool, they should have the stronger bench on the night, with Divock Origi, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen all good changes should they make the bench.
Key man for Liverpool: Emre Can. He was immense against Villarreal in the semi-final in his return from injury. He bossed the midfield and I think he will have a big prescence again tonight, he may not score but he will certainly influence how well Liverpool play.
Key man for Sevilla: Kevin Gameiro. He’s had a strong season both domestically and in this competition, scoring 16 goals in La Liga, and 7 in the Europa League, he also got a goal in the Champions League before Sevilla were knocked out at the group stage. He’s a real danger man who will keep Lovren and Toure busy tonight.
Score Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Sevilla
Man of the match prediction: Liverpool’s Emre Can
By Ben Kelly – @benkelly_10