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5 talking points ahead of tonight's Europa League final

Benfica will be hoping to end a 52-year curse when they face Sevilla in Turin later.

The Benfica players train at the Juventus Stadium yesterday.
The Benfica players train at the Juventus Stadium yesterday.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Sevilla v Benfica (7.45pm)

1. Benfica look to end curse

2013 WILL BE remembered as the year when Benfica came up short on three occasions.

The Lisbon club were chasing a treble in the shape of a Portuguese title, the domestic cup and the Europa League. However, it all fell apart in the final fortnight of the season as Porto beat them in the penultimate league fixture to take the championship, before they lost out to Chelsea and Vitoria Guimaraes in two cup finals.

Go back even further and it doesn’t make for great reading either. Since winning two consecutive European Cups in 1961 and 1962, Benfica have been on the losing side in SEVEN major UEFA finals.

Tonight, they will look to end that 52-year curse in Turin.

2. Quadruple on the cards for Jesus

After the disappointment of last season, Jorge Jesus’ side have bounced back to win their first title in four years as well as the league cup.

Add those to tonight’s showpiece and their Portuguese Cup final against Rio Ave on Sunday and Benfica could be on the way to an unprecedented quadruple.

Over the past year we’ve tried going down a similar route to last season, at least in getting to the final,” Jesus told “Now, our know-how comes in.

“We’ve been here before and are stronger for the experience, we know what to expect. In the past we’ve gone match by match but over the past year it’s been taking things final by final.”

3. Sevilla take the long road

Having embarked on their road to the final way back in August (against Mladost Podgorica), Sevilla will play their 19th game in this season’s Europa League tonight.

Los Rojiblancos, who are currently fifth in La Liga, have already beaten Portuguese opposition as they knocked out Porto at the quarter-final stage by an aggregate score of 4-2.

In the last four, Unai Emery’s men picked up a 2-0 first leg victory over Valencia but fell behind to three unanswered goals in the return fixture before Stephane M’Bia sent them through on away goals in the fourth minute of injury time.

4. Emery aiming to realise his dreams

Italy Soccer Europa League Final Unai Emery. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Sevilla have pedrigree in this competition as they won the UEFA Cup twice on the bounce in 2006 and 2007 (defeating Middlesbrough and Espanyol).

Former Valencia and Spark Moscow boss Emery recalls watching those finals with envy but tonight he can win his first major trophy as a manager with Sevilla.

“I remember watching those finals and wondering to myself, what it would be like to experience being in that situation one day,” the Spaniard said.

“Now I’m here, I’m keen to make the most of it. Opportunities appear when you’re there and involved yourself and fortunately, we’re here.”

5. And your host for tonight is…

The Juventus Stadium in Turin is hosting its first major UEFA final this evening. Built on the site of Juve’s old Delle Alpi Stadium, it was opened in 2011.

Juventus themselves had hoped to feature in the final but went out to Benfica in the semi-finals – a 2-1 first leg win for the Portuguese outfit was followed up by a 0-0 draw.

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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