By Samindra Kunti in Budapest
May 30 – Spanish club Sevilla will be favourites to win an unprecedented seventh Europa League title when they face a José Mourinho-led AS Roma, who can claim back-to-back European trophies, in the final of the competition.
The Spanish were enduring a torrid domestic season until coach José Mendilibar stepped in and steered Sevilla away from the relegation zone. On the way to Budapest, they overcame both Manchester United and Juventus.
At a news conference, Mourinho was happy to concede the favourite’s role to the Spanish.
“History does not play,” said the Portuguese. “My colleague [Sevilla coach Mendilibar] thinks otherwise, I have respect for him. He believes that history makes Sevilla favourites, I respect that.
“We are in the final because we deserved to be, they have a history that we do not have. For them to play the final is a normal thing, for us, it is an extraordinary event.”
Last season, Roma won the maiden edition of the Conference League with a 1-0 final win against Feyenoord of the Netherlands. Twenty years ago, he reached his first European club final when Porto defeated Celtic 3-2 in Seville. A year later, Porto went on to win the Champions League 3-0 against Monaco, a feat Mourinho repeated in 2010 with Inter Milan.
After all these years, Mourinho has become something of an evergreen, no longer competing at the absolute elite level but still clinging to his own philosophy, shying away from possession and pressing, two hallmarks of the modern game. In the semi-final second leg in Leverkusen, AS Roma enjoyed just 28% of possession. There was no intention whatsoever from Mourinho to attack.
“Whoever makes the fewest mistakes will win,” said Mendilibar.
The final will be played at a sold-out Puskas Arena in the Hungarian capital with both clubs having received a ticketing allocation of 15,000 tickets for the 63,000-seat venue. The Arena has previously hosted the 2020 Super Cup as well as four matches during Euro 2020.
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