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Europa League final bears similarities with Middlesborough's 2006 defeat

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On the face of it, comparing last night's goalless draw against Benfica, and the 4-0 thumping of Middlesborough in 2006 would be irrelevant, however, when you compare the two victorious Sevilla sides, remarkable similarities exist.

In goal, both keepers were 32-year-old stalwarts. Andrés Palop appeared in over two-hundred matches for Los Rojiblancos, and duly secured cult-status by winning Sevilla's first European trophy in 2006.

In goal last night was Beto who, despite not amassing the same amount of appearances as Palop, will no doubt be a fan favourite in Andalusia, after saving penalties from both Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo.         

In defence, the sides contained full-backs Dani Alves in 2006, and Alberto Moreno of the current Sevilla outfit, who starred on the way to the final. Whilst Dani Alves was a year older than the 21-year-old Moreno, the Spaniard is arguably a better defender than Alves was at a similar stage in his career, and is likely to follow a similar career trajectory, with Liverpool and Chelsea both keen on securing his signature this summer. Both players received their first international recognition in the year they won their European titles.

Man of the Match in both finals were central midfielders. For Enzo Maresca in 2006, read Ivan Rakitic in 2014. Both possessed exquisite right-foots and fantastic vision, as the Croatian Rakitic showed when he sprayed a forty-yard pass to Carlos Bacca with his weaker left-foot.

Whilst Maresca stole the show with two-goals in the final against Middlesborough, Rakitic's influence was more subtle. With three goals and three assists throughout the tournament, Rakitic just about exceeded Maresca's contribution in 2006, with the Italian notching three goals and one assist. 

Up front, two powerful South Americans led the line for their respective teams. In 2006, Brazilian Luis Fabiano did what Columbian Carlos Bacca was unable to do, and scored in the final.

Bacca's input to the winning side cannot be undermined, finishing as the joint third highest scoring player, with seven goals. Whilst Fabiano wasn't picked for Brazil's 2006 World Cup squad, Bacca will be part of an exciting Columbian front line, and will play a crucial role if Falcao is unable to compete. 

Unfortunately for Sevilla supporters, the side of 2014 is likely to be picked apart by Europe's elite clubs in the same way both the 2006 and 2007 Uefa Cup winning squads were. 

Ivan Rakitic has reportedly already agreed a deal to join Real Madrid, whilst Alberto Moreno is likely to leave, especially if he stars at the World Cup. Carlos Bacca could be a replacement for Diego Costa at Atlético Madrid, and would represent a like-for-like replacement for the Spaniard. Federico Fazio is finally displaying the consistently high performances that were expected of him as a youngster, and is reportedly interesting Liverpool, Newcastle and Arsenal. Sevilla could be powerless to avoid the sale, if rumours of a €10million release clause are true.

Sevilla are, like many top clubs in Spain, riddled with debt. So whilst a third European title in under a decade will be celebrated on the streets of Andalusia, there will inevitably be a similar backlash as experienced in 2006, with Sevilla's top prospects moving on to other clubs around Europe.

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Topics:
La Liga
Football
Europa League

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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