Preview: Sevilla vs. Roma – prediction, team news, lineups
Something must give in Wednesday’s Europa League final at the Puskas Arena, as six-time winners Sevilla tackle a Roma side managed by Jose Mourinho, who remains unbeaten in five continental finals.
The teams convene in Budapest, having both faltered in domestic competition but excelled in Europe’s second-tier competition, and only one can journey home with the silverware.
Preview: Sevilla vs. Roma – prediction, team news, lineups
As Sevilla stride out on Wednesday night, with the glare of the continent upon them, they will uphold a proud tradition which has snowballed during the 21st century: semi-final victory over Juventus saw them reach the final of the Europa League – or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup – for a seventh time; two more than any other club.
Los Rojiblancos have won the competition on each previous occasion they have reached its finale, with the first success coming in 2006, when current captain Jesus Navas played his part in lifting the trophy at the tender age of 20, after Sevilla saw off the challenge of Middlesbrough.
The most recent win came three years ago, and now the most successful side in the tournament’s history conclude a troubled 2022-23 campaign by travelling to Hungary – a nation hosting its first major European final since 1985.
Eliminating both Manchester United and Juve en route, Sevilla’s success in the semis featured a 25th win from their last 28 Europa League matches at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, but they must now prove their mettle on neutral soil against particularly obdurate opponents.
Like Roma, but to an even greater extent, the Andalucian club have endured a difficult domestic season, and they journey east under their third coach of the campaign: understated Basque boss Jose Luis Mendilibar. Thanks to his steadying influence, Sevilla have seen off the threat of relegation from La Liga, and their fortunes have distinctly improved since his appointment.
Though they could still fall short of securing a top-half finish in Spain, Sevilla have lost just twice during Mendilibar’s spell as head coach – most recently on the Primera Division’s penultimate matchday, at the hands of Real Madrid – and are one win away from claiming a seventh continental title.
Victory in Budapest would mean only five clubs have won more major European trophies, and for those that believe in such things, the omens are good: the only previous meeting between Sevilla and Roma saw the Spanish side progress from the Europa League’s last 16 in 2020, before going on to lift the prize for a sixth time.
While Mendilibar – who will participate in his first European final – is hoping for Sevilla’s lucky number seven, his counterpart Jose Mourinho has already banked five major UEFA trophies to date.
Should Roma succeed this week, Mourinho will become the most decorated manager in the long history of European competition – moving clear of Italian maestro Giovanni Trapattoni – and having helped the Giallorossi lift the inaugural Europa Conference League trophy last year, he would also be the first coach to win the Europa League with three different clubs, following prior triumphs with Porto (2003) and Manchester United (2017).
Though the Eternal City club lost to Inter in their only UEFA Cup final appearance, back in 1991, Wednesday’s will be Roma’s fifth European final overall, with the most recent seeing Mourinho’s men beat Feyenoord in Tirana this time last year.
Despite some dire recent form in Italy, a side which progressed through the autumn group stage before knocking out Red Bull Salzburg, Real Sociedad, Feyenoord (again) and semi-final victims Bayer Leverkusen could yet claim continental titles in consecutive seasons.
Victory over the latter came thanks to a single goal scored by young Roman Edoardo Bove at Stadio Olimpico, with that first-leg lead being defended doggedly in Germany seven days later – a Mourinho masterclass in parking the bus.
Sitting sixth in Serie A with one game remaining, Roma can finish fifth at best following a 2-1 reverse at fellow European finalists Fiorentina last weekend. In fact, some have accused the Giallorossi of tanking during a run featuring three losses and four draws domestically, so the stakes are incredibly high this week.
The Europa League winners, of course, gain direct entry into the 2023-24 Champions League group stage, and Mourinho appears to have bet on everything coming good at the Puskas Arena, before – if rumours are to be believed – walking off into the sunset with reputation restored.
Sevilla Europa League form:
Sevilla form (all competitions):
Roma Europa League form:
Roma form (all competitions):
Having been Sevilla’s cup goalkeeper since Jose Luis Mendilibar arrived in Andalucia, Yassine Bounou will replace Marko Dmitrovic between the posts, as the Spanish side make several changes to the team beaten by Real Madrid on Saturday.
While Joan Jordan and Suso have overcome injuries to return to contention, both Tanguy Nianzou and Loic Bade will not and Marcos Acuna is suspended, but Mendilibar still has plenty of options to choose from.
Captaining the team from right-back in a likely 4-2-3-1 formation, Jesus Navas will be 37 years and 191 days old on Wednesday, and should therefore become the oldest outfield player to start a UEFA Cup or Europa League final since 38-year-old David Weir did so for Rangers back in 2008.
Up front, Rafa Mir makes way for Bounou’s fellow World Cup star, Youssef En-Nesyri. The Moroccan striker scored twice in Los Rojiblancos’ quarter-final victory over Manchester United and once against Juventus in the semis.
Despite longstanding concerns, it seems Roma’s main man Paulo Dybala will also be available in Budapest, after he was cleared by the club’s medical staff. Having recovered from an ankle injury suffered against Atalanta last month, the mercurial forward should be fit enough for a cameo from the bench and could even start.
Leonardo Spinazzola is also set to make it back in time for the final, having resumed full training at the start of the week; therefore, only Marash Kumbulla remains sidelined.
After Jose Mourinho revealed his hand by fielding a weakened team in Florence – demonstrating that Wednesday’s showdown will be an all-or-nothing occasion – several key players will return.
Nemanja Matic, goalkeeper Rui Patricio and captain Lorenzo Pellegrini did not travel to Tuscany at the weekend, but the latter – who has played a direct role in eight Europa League goals this season – will lead Roma out in the Hungarian capital.
Sevilla possible starting lineup:
Bounou; Navas, Marcao, Gudelj, Telles; Fernando, Rakitic; Ocampos, Torres, Gil; En-Nesyri
Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Celik, Cristante, Matic, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, El Shaarawy; Abraham
We say: Sevilla 0-1 Roma (after extra time)
There is no doubt that Sevilla’s form is far better coming into Wednesday’s grand finale, as Roma have lost momentum in Serie A and banked everything on winning in Europe.
The La Liga side have more attacking options available to them too, but Mourinho’s men can defend for their lives and strike from a set-piece – and that could be enough to secure more silverware for the defiant Giallorossi.