Europa League Final background
The Europa League is the secondary continental club competition behind the Champions League and contested over a similar format of qualifiers, a group stage and a knockout phase, albeit involving a greater number of participating teams.
That means an extra knockout round takes place to reduce the group-stage qualifiers from 32 to 16 and they are whittled down on a head-to-head basis via two-leg home-and-away ties to determine the two finalists.
The club that wins the Europa League will automatically enter the group stage of next season’s Champions League if they have not already achieved that through their own domestic competition - and provided the 2017 Champions League winners have also qualified themselves.
When and where is the Europa League Final 2017?
The Friends Arena in Solna, just outside the Swedish capital Stockholm, will stage the Europa League Final on Wednesday May 24 with a 19:45 BST kick-off.
Opened in 2012 as Sweden’s national football stadium to replace the now-demolished Rasunda Stadium a kilometre away, the Friends Arena took three years to build and has a capacity of just over 50,000 for sporting events.
The Friends Arena in Solna, just outside Stockholm, venue for the 2017 Europa League Final (Getty Images)
Who will play in the Europa League Final?
Not the three-time defending champions, that’s for sure. Sevilla have dominated the Europa League in recent years, completing a back-to-back hat-trick in 2016, but would not have minded giving up the trophy because they qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League instead.
In the Spanish club’s absence, Manchester United have been the clear favourites throughout the competition during their first season under manager Jose Mourinho – who initially sprang to prominence when he won the Europa League’s forerunner, the UEFA Cup, in 2003 with Porto.
Roma have also been looking strong while Lyon, who dropped into this competition due to finishing third in their Champions League group, and Schalke are other teams clearly taking seriously their quest to lift this trophy.
Past winners and finals
Sevilla have emerged from nowhere in the last decade or so to become comfortably the most successful club in the history of the Europa League and its predecessor the UEFA Cup, which was inaugurated in 1971-72.
The Spanish club’s five victories have put them two ahead of Inter Milan, Juventus and Liverpool, while Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Monchengladbach began the knockout stage hoping they would be able to join those three-time winners.
|2014||Sevilla||0-0 (won on penalties)||Benfica|
|2012||Atletico Madrid||3-0||Athletic Bilbao|
|2010||Atletico Madrid||2-1 (after extra time)||Fulham|
|2009||Shakhtar Donetsk||2-1 (after extra time)||Werder Bremen|
|2008||Zenit St Petersburg||2-0 ||Rangers|
|2007||Sevilla||2-2 (won on penalties)||Espanyol|
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