The UEFA Europa League final in Budapest simply will not provide an opportunity to lift international titles for the Italian Roma team, who last night knocked out Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg of the semi-final.
Lifting this prestigious trophy will allow the Gillorossi to secure a place in next year’s UEFA Champions League, the most lucrative club football tournament in the world.
Last night, the UEFA Europa League semi-final matches were full of drama.
At the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla and Juventus had a very entertaining first half, marked by goal-scoring opportunities at both ends. The Bianconeri probably have the biggest chance with 2022 World Cup champion Angel Di Maria, who surprisingly missed the target from close range with an outside-footed shot.
Substitute Dusan Vlahović finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute, a few seconds after he entered the pitch. The Serbian international showed all his composure in front of goal as he beat the Sevilla goalkeeper with a sweet left-footed shot that gave his side a 1-0 lead.
Supported by 40,000 noisy fans, Sevilla immediately found the strength to bounce back from deprivation. It took the Spanish side six minutes to equalize, thanks to former AC Milan attacking midfielder Suso, who shot from long range into the top left corner.
In a match that remained very balanced throughout the 90 minutes, the tie was eventually broken in overtime. Erik Lamela’s header, placed too carefully to be within reach of Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, was enough to give Sevilla a ticket to their fifth Europa League final in 10 years.
Roma, who started 1-0 on aggregate after a goal in the first leg by Italian youngster Eduardo Boff, traveled to Germany knowing that a draw against Bayer Leverkusen would suffice.
The Giallorossi lined up in a highly organized 3-5-2 system, directing their energy to contain opposition attacks rather than putting numbers forward.
Across the two halves, Jose Mourinho’s men conceded a total of 23 shots alongside Xabi Alonso, but they never lost their cool and diligently stuck to their defensive game plan until the final whistle.
Their efforts finally paid off: after nine, seemingly eternal minutes of extra time, the Roma players could finally shout with joy after winning their second European final in two years and their first Europa League final since 1991.
Roma knows that lifting this piece of European silverware will not only bring sporting pleasure. It would also guarantee access to next year’s UEFA Champions League, the biggest money-making tournament for football clubs, but also for players, whose contracts often include lucrative add-on clauses that are triggered when that goal is achieved.
Booking a place in the UEFA Champions League is proving particularly challenging this year for Serie A clubs, with six of them fighting fiercely for the three available slots with only three rounds left in the league.
Participation in Europe’s most lucrative football tournament generates at least €50 million in UEFA prize money distribution via participation and performance bonuses, market pools and coefficient-based amounts.
Given that Roma’s financial statement recorded €162m in total revenue in 2022, this kind of proceeds from UEFA would make up a large part of their income. It would also positively impact the club’s ability to sign new players in the transfer window and award contract extensions to the most deserving footballers on their list.
On May 31, Roma are set to take on the field against Sevilla at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, but there is already great anticipation in Roma among the Giallorossi fans.
Jose Mourinho’s men are ready to battle it out in a match that will determine their current season as well as the next season.