Peter Fitzpatrick·31 May 2023
Peter Fitzpatrick·31 May 2023
Sevilla won yet another Europa League title, defeating Roma 4-1 on penalties after it ended 1-1 after 120 long and gruelling minutes.
Here’s what we made of it all.
At this point, just rename the trophy. Seven finals. Seven wins. It is Sevilla’s competition and no one else’s.
Not even Jose Mourinho, a two-time winner of this competition and a man who had never lost a European final, could break their stranglehold.
A 1-0 deficit to a Mourinho side in a final would signal the end for many sides but not Sevilla, who regrouped and went again in the second half.
They matched Roma’s physicality, and their efforts were rewarded via an own goal from Gianluca Mancini from a brilliant Jesus Navas cross.
Penalties came and it was Sevilla who held their nerve, going to the well one more time to slot four spot kicks past a penalty specialist in Rui Patricio in front of their adoring fans.
Not bad work from José Luis Mendilibar, who took over a club in crisis and in the relegation battle just over two months ago.
Manchester United, Juventus and now Roma have realised the Europa League is Sevilla’s world and they just lived in it.
Penalties and Jose Mourinho, nor penalties and Roma, just don’t work.
Questions need to be asked about the choice of takers. Why did three centre-backs go up before Andrea Belotti and Stephan El Shaarawy? It certainly didn’t help that Tammy Abraham and Paulo Dybala were not on the pitch either.
It continues a terrible penalty shoot-out record for Mourinho, which seems strange considering a strong mentality has been a staple of both his management style and squads over the last 20 years.
Previously he has lost three Champions League semi-finals on penalties (twice with Chelsea to Liverpool and once with Real Madrid to Bayern Munich), plus a Super Cup and numerous domestic contests.
Ironically, one of the few shoot-out successes he has had came against Roma while he was in charge of Inter.
Will Mourinho be back for more next season? It seems unlikely given the lack of funds available in the capital city and strong links with PSG.
If this is the end, it’s a sad end to a special two years for the ‘Special One.’
Once upon a time, the Europa League/UEFA Cup belonged to Italian clubs, with eight winners in 11 seasons between 1988-89 and 1998-99.
Such was their dominance in Europe’s second competition that four finals during this time were all-Serie A affairs.
That gravy train came to a shuddering halt at the dawn of the new millennium, with Roma being just the second Italian club to make the Europa League final after Inter in 2019-20, who also lost. Their victors? You guessed it, Sevilla.
The stat, while somewhat odd, represents the fall of Italian football over the last 20 or so years from a position of strength to one of weakness in comparison to the Spanish and English leagues in particular.
Mourinho is the manager of the last two Italian sides to be victorious in Europe – last year with Roma in the Conference League and in 2010 with Inter in the Champions League.
Maybe Simone Inzaghi can re-write the narrative against Manchester City in the Champions League final.