Sevilla are chasing a record-extending fifth Europa League/UEFA Cup title and a third consecutive triumph when they play Liverpool in Wednesday’s final. The English side can match the Spaniards with their fourth crown.
Sevilla have made the Europa League their own in recent seasons and the Spanish side are on the brink of becoming the first club to win the tournament three times on the trot.
The Andalusians claimed the trophy in 2006 and 2007 when it was known as the UEFA Cup and won Europe’s renamed second-tier club competition for a third and then a record fourth time in the two most recent editions.
Last season, Sevilla were the first to benefit from a rule change which means the Europa League winners get a lucrative berth in the Champions League.
Victory over Liverpool on Wednesday would make up for a disappointing domestic league season when they finished seventh in La Liga. They face Spanish champions Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final on Sunday, meaning they are still in with a chance of a memorable double .
But it's Liverpool, resurgent under German coach Jürgen Klopp, who stand in Sevilla’s way as the Spaniards bid to become the first team to win three consecutive editions of a major European trophy since Bayern Munich’s third straight European Cup in 1976.
Liverpool’s Spanish left back Alberto Moreno knows Wednesday’s opponents better than most.
The 23-year-old Seville native graduated from Sevilla’s youth academy before moving to Anfield in August 2014 and remains a fan of his hometown club, with whom he won the Europa League in 2014.
Moreno told UEFA.com on Tuesday self-confidence will be key to Liverpool’s chances.
“We have to believe in ourselves, and do what we know how to do,” Moreno said.
“You should never let your head drop, and knowing that – with the support of all our fans and all our families who will be there to cheer us on – we will try to give everything to win that final.”
Moreno was effusive in his praise for Klopp, who has transformed Liverpool’s fortunes since taking over from Brendan Rodgers in October.
“Since Klopp's arrival, everything's been different. All the players have been performing at 100 percent,” Moreno said.
“He is very close to the players and talks to everybody. He transmits a lot of confidence and a lot of passion, and it's great for the players that the coach is always motivated. So we've really felt a change, and we've managed to reach the final in Basel thanks to him.”
Sevilla captain Coke expects a tough match at the St Jakob Park stadium and noted Liverpool had dispatched some heavyweight teams, including Manchester United, Villarreal and Klopp’s former club Dortmund, on their way to the final.
“Liverpool are a great team, and very well coached,” the fullback told UEFA.com. “Both teams will be very excited, and in the first few minutes they'll probably be worried about losing the match, but after that it will be a great spectacle.”
Coke has a strong sense of what victory would mean for the club he joined from Rayo Vallecano in 2011.
“Sevilla and the Europa League already have a close mutual bond, and winning this trophy for the fifth time, and the third time in a row, would literally mean we are making history.
“No one knows if anyone will achieve that again; it is very unlikely. Of course, we are not fully aware of the magnitude of what we are doing, but that will be clearer a few years from now.”
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday that he is fit for the final, while striker Divick Origi is also in with a chance of playing some part in the game.
The Anfield club can match Sevilla as four-time winners of the competition but on recent form a record-extending fifth triumph for the Spaniards is the likelier outcome.