Liverpool's Emre Can upbeat on Reds' chances against Sevilla
Emre Can believes the Reds' legendary battling qualities can help end their 11-year wait for a continental trophy against treble-chasing Sevilla in Wednesday's Europa League final
Liverpool midfielder Emre Can believes the Reds' legendary never-say-die qualities can help end their 11-year wait for a continental trophy against treble-chasing Sevilla in Wednesday's Europa League final.
In their first European final since defeat by AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League, Liverpool are bidding to scupper the Spanish side's bid for an unprecedented third straight Europa League title at Basel's St. Jakob-Park. It brings Liverpool's breathtaking journey through the competition under new manager Jürgen Klopp to a thrilling climax, following dramatic wins over Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal over the past few months.
After seeing his side sink Villarreal brilliantly to reach the final, Klopp declared: "To go to a final you need a little bit of luck in decisive moments, but most of the time you need outstanding performances. Now we are there, and it's a great opportunity and we will take it."
Liverpool's fans should be getting excited, but they will be up against the only team to have successfully defended the trophy on two occasions - in 2007 and 2015; silky-smooth Sevilla hold a record four UEFA Cup/Europa League titles, and are arguably under less pressure.
Can wants to seize his chance in his first final with the club, but says a collective show of force will be required against the tough La Liga side."Sevilla know how to play in the Europa League," Can told Liverpool's website. "They've won the last two Europa League titles, and so it will be a very tough game, but if we show what we are able to do as a team then we can win the final."
Five-time European champions Liverpool, who have never won this tournament since it was rebranded as Europa League but did win it in its previous guise, the UEFA Cup three times, have often provided drama on the European stage. In their last success in this tournament, in 2001, they triumphed after a nine-goal thriller against Deportivo Alavés only after Delfi Geli scored a 'golden goal' own goal in extra-time - the last player to do so in a major European final.
Four years later, Liverpool staged arguably the greatest comeback in Champions League final history by overcoming a three-goal half-time deficit against AC Milan to force the Italians into extra time then a penalty shoot-out, winning their fifth European crown 3-2 from the spot. After Milan took revenge with a 2-1 Champions League triumph in 2007, Liverpool now have the chance to silver-line an encouraging first season for Klopp at Anfield.
With a Champions League slot also offered to Wednesday's winners, the German has pulled out all the stops. He rotated his entire starting XI for the 1-1 draw at West Brom on Sunday, meaning he welcomes back the big guns. Captain Jordan Henderson could start after returning from a knee ligament problem at West Brom, while Divock Origi, preferred to Daniel Sturridge up front in the Europa League, is available having come through training unscathed on Monday following a spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Sevilla, whose defeat to Athletic Club on Saturday means that they have the dubious honour of being the only side not to have scored a win away from home in the whole of last year’s league campaign, may have the added pressure of facing Barcelona in the Spanish Copa del Rey final on Sunday, but coach Unai Emery insisted: "We have the chance to play two finals and, despite the difficulty our opponents will cause us, the team is determined and determined to enjoy it."
In comments to uefa.com, he added: "The fact that this is our third consecutive final demonstrates how focused and hungry we have been to do well in the Europa League, and win it."
Kevin Gameiro, Sevilla's top scorer this season with 28 goals - including seven in eight Europa League outings believes his side's past experiences will prove decisive. "Liverpool are an historic club with great players," the French striker told Sevilla's website."It's exciting... and they'll make life hard for us, but we've been together for a number of years and we know how to play these games."
Can, meanwhile, has one extra incentive. He already owns losers' and winners' medals from Champions League finals, but as part of Bayern Munich's squad the 22-year-old did not even get to lace up his boots, in 2012 and 2013 respectively. He explained: "I want to win that final and my first trophy with Liverpool. I will give my best, the team will give its best and then we want to win the game and hopefully we will do it."
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