For the fourth time in four years the UEFA Cup will have a new name on it whatever the result of the final between Middlesbrough FC and Sevilla FC.
Article top media content
For the fourth time in four years the UEFA Cup will have a new name on it whatever the result of tonight's final between Middlesbrough FC and Sevilla FC. Both are playing in their first European final, both come to the PSV Stadion in Eindhoven with a huge weight of expectation.
"I've looked through the programme and there are many, many famous names, many famous clubs, that have won this trophy," Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren said. "We'd like to put our name on it and I would certainly like to be the coach that leads the team to victory." Sevilla have not lifted a major trophy since 1948, and have not played in a major final since 1962. "Just to be here is great," coach Juande Ramos said. "It's a dream and we're ready to go into this historic match for Seville and Andalusia."
The last time Spanish and English sides met in a UEFA Cup final, Liverpool FC defeated Deportivo Alavés 5-4 in 2001. Middlesbrough, in only their second season of European competition, have provided similar thrills with their dramatic quarter-final and semi-final victories against FC Basel 1893 and FC Steaua Bucuresti. "A team that has scored so well is a very serious opponent," Ramos said. "Even when they're behind, they hope for a miracle. They're always fighting, but we're confident we have sufficient strength and ability to win this final. We've been training well and hope the game will justify the work we've been doing."
Massimo Maccarone struck the last-minute winners against both Basel and Steaua but is likely to be back on the substitutes' bench as McClaren opts for the experience of Mark Viduka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink up front. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer should start, possibly wearing a mask to protect his fractured cheekbone. For Sevilla, Frédéric Kanouté still lacks match fitness so Luis Fabiano could partner Javier Saviola in attack. Saviola, on loan from FC Barcelona, has scored six times en route to the final and Ramos is expecting another strong performance from the Argentinian. "He is a great player and always gives his best for the team," he said. "A player like him knows what an important match this is."
McClaren will be taking charge of his last game with Middlesbrough before becoming England manager later this summer. He said his appointment last Thursday has not affected his side's preparations, and that he is looking to go out on a winning note. "To finish in a final and to win would be very, very special," he said. "The team has been very focused. We've had four games in eight days - enough for the team to concentrate on. We can't wait for this game. You make your own luck with preparation and opportunity. We're prepared and we now have an opportunity."
McClaren named Saviola and Kanouté as Sevilla's danger men, happy to label his side as "underdogs". In contrast to Middlesbrough, Sevilla have enjoyed a superb season on the domestic front and are still challenging for a UEFA Champions League place. Ramos stressed, though, they would not be guilty of overconfidence. "We need a positive state of mind. We've done well lately and we're comfortable in the league, but if we're not at our best we won't win. At times we've been overconfident and our results have gone down. But the players know they'll have to work hard from the first minute. You will see on the pitch how good we are."