Espanyol v Sevilla
Hampden Park, Kick-off: 7:45
Espanyol and Sevilla meet in an all-Spanish UEFA Cup final at Hampden Park on Wednesday night.
Sevilla are in the final for the second year running having demolished Middlesbrough 4-0 in Eindhoven 12 months ago to claim their first European trophy.
They now stand poised to become only the second team to retain the trophy, after fellow Spanish club Real Madrid who won back-to-back UEFA Cups in 1985 and 1986.
“It is a great chance to defend the trophy,” said Sevilla coach Juande Ramos.
“Last year was great for us, but this is also a huge match and a big chance for Espanyol, while we want more of the same.
“To win back-to-back trophies is something only Real Madrid have done and that was a long while back. As a club we are proud to have this chance to recreate history; it is in our hands, or our legs, and we’ll be doing everything to achieve it.”
In addition to last year’s triumph in Holland, Sevilla also lifted the UEFA Super Cup in 2006 with a 3-0 victory over Barcelona, but their coach is not counting his blessings this time around.
“Nobody has the right to win,” said Ramos. “It was a beautiful match in Eindhoven so hopefully we’ll have as good a game and enjoy the same luck.
“There are many factors to playing a final and the team that gets more of these right on the night will win. Because we have played a number of finals recently I’m confident and Espanyol will have to do a lot – and do it very well – if they are to win.”
Ramos will replace the suspended Julien Escude with Aitor Ocio in central defence, while Adriano Correia has recovered from a thigh injury and will start.
Espanyol have their own motivation for wanting to prevail tonight. Having reached their only UEFA final in 1988 they lost on penalties to Bayer Leverkusen despite winning the first part of what was then a two-legged final, 3-0.
Espanyol coach Ernesto Valverde was a member of the side that established a three-goal lead 19 years ago, but then sat out the traumatic second leg. He acknowledges its effects are still being felt by the club.
“After we lost in Leverkusen, the UEFA Cup has always meant something to Espanyol,” he said.
“From the start of this season the boys have treated the competition properly. Maybe the fact we lost a final has something to do with that, along with the way the fans still think of the tournament and the one that got away.”
“This is a different situation. We took a good first-leg lead but then disintegrated once they scored their first goal in Germany. This is an entirely different match and another chance for us.
“You don’t have many opportunities to lift a European trophy. The key to a final is something you can’t predict. You have to cope with the tension of the occasion, but you never quite know what’s going to happen.”
Ivan De La Pena and Raul Tamudo return to Espanyol’s team after they were rested at the weekend.
Tamudo will partner in-form Walter Pandiani up front, while Gorka Iraizoz is expected to be be picked ahead of Carlos Kameni in goal.
Gorka Iraizoz; Pablo Zabaleta, Moises Hurtado, Daniel Jarque, David Garcia; Franciso Rufete, Ito, Ivan de la Pena, Albert Riera; Luis García, Raul Tamudo.
Andres Palop; Daniel Alves, Aitor Ocio, Javi Navarro, David Castedo; Renato, Christian Poulsen, Jose Luis Marti; Adriano Correia; Luis Fabiano, Frederic Kanoute.