The 2010/11 UEFA Europa League final will be disputed between two clubs situated less than 50km from one another for the first time ever in a major European showpiece.
There is nothing unique about the fact that two clubs from the same country will meet at the Dublin Arena on 18 May; indeed FC Sevilla prevailed over RCD Espanyol in the UEFA Cup final as recently as 2006/07, and Manchester United FC pipped Chelsea FC for UEFA Champions League honours only three years ago. Yet never before will clubs of such close proximity as FC Porto and SC Braga have locked horns with a piece of major European silverware at stake.
With domestic title winners Porto already holding a 5-1 advantage from their semi-final first leg against Villarreal CF, and Benfica playing Braga in Thursday's other last-four encounter, there was every chance that this season's UEFA Europa League crown would be contested by two Portuguese sides, but had Benfica prevailed, the distance between the competition's last two survivors would have been 271.8km.
As it is, Custódio's crucial goal at Estádio Municipal de Braga eliminated the Lisbon outfit, propelling the Arsenalistas through to their first European final and ensuring that just 47.4km will separate the finalists in a northern Portuguese derby that will carry a particularly special flavour.
The eagerly anticipated contest will break the record set by KV Mechelen and PSV Eindhoven in 1988. The Belgian outfit faced their Dutch neighbours in a two-legged UEFA Super Cup, Mechelen winning 3-0 at home before making a short 83.8km trip to the Netherlands where they limited the European champions to a 1-0 triumph.
Parma FC and AC Milan currently hold the record for the shortest distance between two finalists of the same nation. The Italian sides, situated just 115.6km apart, met in the 1993 UEFA Super Cup. The 2011 UEFA Europa League decider will be the ninth final pitting together two clubs distanced by less than 200km, including two more all-Italian meetings: UC Sampdoria faced Milan (119.3km) in the UEFA Super Cup in 1990, and Milan edged past Juventus (125.5km) in the 2003 UEFA Champions League final.
England features on the list thanks to the UEFA Cup showdown between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC (178.3km) in 1972, while Germany produced neighbouring finalists in 1980 when VfL Borusssia Mönchengladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt (198.5km) met in the the same competition. Two other cross-border finals feature prominently in the record books, with Mönchengladbach taking on FC Twente (118.8km) in the final of the 1975 UEFA Cup and Mechelen playing AFC Ajax (152.8km) in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1988.
Shortest distances between UEFA club competition finalists (200km or less)
1) FC Porto v SC Braga (2011 UEFA Europa League) – 47.4km
2) KV Mechelen v PSV Eindhoven (1988 UEFA Super Cup) – 83.8km
3) Parma FC v AC Milan (1993 UEFA Super Cup) - 115.6km
4) VfL Borusssia Mönchengladbach v FC Twente (1975 UEFA Cup) – 118.8km
5) UC Sampdoria v AC Milan (1990 UEFA Super Cup) – 119.3km
6) Juventus v AC Milan (2003 UEFA Champions League) – 125.5km
7) KV Mechelen v Ajax (1988 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) – 152.8km
8) Wolverhampton Wanderers FC v Tottenham Hotspur FC (1972 UEFA Cup) – 178.3km
9) VfL Borusssia Mönchengladbach v Eintracht Frankfurt (1980 UEFA Cup) – 198.5km
Longest distances between UEFA club competition finalists (2,000km or more)
1) Sporting Clube de Portugal v PFC CSKA Moskva (2005 UEFA Cup) 3,911.2km
2) FC Barcelona v FC Shakhtar Donetsk (2009 UEFA Super Cup) 3,013.2km
3) FC Dynamo Kyiv v Club Atlético de Madrid (1986 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) 2,865.5km
4) FC Dinamo Tbilisi v FC Carl Zeiss Jena (1981 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) 2,722.8km
5) Liverpool FC v PFC CSKA Moskva (2005 UEFA Super Cup) 2,593.9km
6) Rangers FC v FC Dinamo Moskva (1972 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) 2,579.1km
7) Manchester United FC v FC Zenit St Petersburg (2008 UEFA Super Cup) 2,089.2km
8) FC Zenit St Petersburg v Rangers FC (2008 UEFA Cup) 2,069.2km
Longest distance travelled for any UEFA club competition game
CD Tenerife v Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (1997 UEFA Cup first round) 4,877.6km
All distances calculated from city to city, as the crow flies
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