Sevilla vs Inter Milan preview: The stage is set for a memorable showdown

Sevilla and Inter Milan will battle it out for Europa League glory in Cologne tonight — nearly 12 months since the group stage began.

Both clubs overcame a trio of opponents in one-legged showdowns during a whirlwind fortnight to reach the final.

Inter saw off Getafe 2-0 and edged out Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 before smashing Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in a one-sided semi-final.

Sevilla, meanwhile, ousted Roma 2-0 before edging two tight contests over English opposition — downing Wolves 1-0 and then stunning Manchester United 2-1.

Antonio Conte’s men enter the first competitive meeting between the two sides as slight favourites, despite Sevilla having won this tournament five times, more than any other team.

Inter boss Conte certainly possesses the personnel for a big occasion.

Samir Handanovic, Diego Godin and Ashley Young provide experience and steel, while strike partners Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have netted 54 goals between them in all competitions this season.

Sevilla, coached by ex-Spain boss Julen Lopetegui, tend to take a more pragmatic approach to the game — but it is certainly effective.

Lopetegui’s men are on a club record 20-game unbeaten run and have only conceded two goals in their last nine outings, making them one of Europe’s most organised sides.

Going forward, goals tend to be shared out for Sevilla, with 11 different players scoring in this competition alone.

An already special game will hold extra significance for departing star Ever Banega.

The enigmatic midfielder, 32, has made more than 200 appearances in two spells for Sevilla and will be desperate to secure a third personal Europa League triumph before departing for Saudi Arabian side Al-Shabab.

Remarkably, it is a first European final for bosses Conte and Lopetegui — making them both even more determined to get their hands on the trophy.

Did you know?

Sevilla have never lost a single game knockout match (not played over two legs) in UEFA Cup/Europa League history, winning six and drawing two. They have won each of their last five such matches, including two finals.

Inter are playing in their 10th major European final but it is their first since the 2010 Champions League, when they won 2-0 against Bayern Munich.

Lukaku has scored in each of his last seven European matches for Inter, netting eight times and providing four assists.

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