Stakes high for Liverpool, Sevilla in Europa League final

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There’s more at stake than just a trophy for Liverpool and Sevilla in the Europa League final. A guaranteed place in the group stage of next season’s Champions League is the bigger reward for the team which placed eighth in the Premier League and seventh in the Spanish league. For Liverpool, the prestige of rejoining the elite will help manager Juergen Klopp’s plans to recruit and build a team this offseason for his first full campaign at the storied club. The five-time winners of the European Cup and Champions League have no safety net on Wednesday. Lose at Saint-Jakob Park and there will be no magical nights of European soccer at Anfield next season.
Sevilla is at least assured of a Europa League place because of its domestic results, and has a second shot at a trophy. Coach Unai Emery leads his team in the Spanish Cup final on Sunday, where victory over Barcelona will earn a place in the group stage of the next Europa League rather than in July in the qualifying rounds.
The stakes may be higher for Liverpool but Sevilla can write a greater chapter in the history of UEFA competitions. No team has won three straight UEFA Cup or Europa League titles, and a fifth for Sevilla all within just 10 years would also extend the record it holds. Liverpool is among three teams with three titles in the competition’s 45- year-history, and a fourth Wednesday to follow wins in 1973, 1976 and 2001 would equal Sevilla for the most.

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