As a young(ish) expatriate, I know how important it is to occasionally gather with other Americans who are living abroad, and celebrate dumb American holidays. However, never in my wildest, pumpkin-pie, turkey, and gravy-induced fever-dreams have I thought, "Gee, we should get together and form a football team (American or otherwise)." Thankfully for the world of football, several Scottish expats living in Sevilla in 1890 did have such a thought whilst celebrating Burns Night, and thus Andalusia's most successful club was born.
Now, here's where it gets interesting for the newly founded club: in 1890, there wasn't really a "league" to join. In fact, at that point in history, there had never even been an official game played between Spanish sides. A month after their founding, Sevilla sent a letter inviting Recreativo de Huelva for a match. Huelva accepted, and on March 8th Sevilla won the first official match in Spanish history, 2-0.
Know Your Enemies: Villarreal
Villarreal might not have a major European honor to their name yet, but they've proven themselves to be a very dangerous side over the past dozen or so years on the continental stage. Let's get to know "El Submarino Amarillo."
For much of the early 20th century, Spain was divided into several smaller regional leagues, and Sevilla dominated Federación Sur, winning 16 of 19 Copa Andalusias played from 1915 to 1932. It was at this time that Sevilla's biggest rival, Real Betis, emerged. It is a rivalry that Sevilla has largely dominated through the years.
Sevilla lost an elimination game to Racing de Santander in 1928, dashing their chance to be a founding member of the newly formed national La Liga. Hardly a way to treat such a historically important club! Regardless, Sevilla would not have to wait long for national prominence. Following the 1934 season, Sevilla finally ascended to the top flight, helped in part by the expansion from 10 to 12 teams.
Since that first promotion to the top flight, Sevilla has been a mainstay, completing 65 seasons in La Liga, and only 7 in the second division. They've had a reasonable trophy haul over the years as well. The Andalusian club has won 4 Europa League/UEFA Cups (a record, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2013-14, 2014-15), 5 Copa del Reys (1935, 1939, 1947-48, 2006-07, 2009-10), a UEFA Super Cup (2006), and a Spanish Super Cup (2007). Their solitary Spanish title came in 1945-46, but they've finished runners-up an additional 4 times (1939-40, 1942-43, 1950-51, and 1956-57).
It's worth, for a moment, elaborating on their very recent European success, because it is very impressive (also, it is fairly relevant in this moment). Although the Europa League is seen as a second-rate competition compared to its big brother with the big ears, no team has ever won it three years on the bounce. Indeed, if Sevilla win on Wednesday night, they would be the first club to win three consecutive major European trophies since Bayern Munich won three European Cups from 1973-1976. Only one other club--Real Fucking Madrid in 1984-85, and 1985-86--has successfully defended their Europa League title. Sevilla has successfully defended their crown twice. Despite this success in the Europa League, Sevilla has yet to translate this into success in the Champions League. They only have made four appearances in Europe's top competition (1957-58, 2007-08, 2009-10, 2015-16), with their furthest progression being the Round of 16, a feat accomplished twice. The upcoming final will be the first time the sides have met in a European competition.
Although Liverpool will not get to visit Sevilla's Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, the club's home has quite an interesting history. Sevilla had no regular home for the first fifty years of the club's existence. Los Rojiblancos simply played at various venues around the city, but in 1937 plans were finally made to create a home of their own. Construction began in 1954, and I'll let the reader come to their own conclusions about the reasons for the delay. The stadium was finally completed in 1958, and has been their home ever since. The architect, incidentally, was a man with an impressive CV and even more impressive name, Manuel Muñoz Monasterio, who also happened to design Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu. Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán originally had a capacity of over 70,000, but was redesigned to fit FIFA's rules on standing sections, and now currently holds around 45,500. In 1982, it hosted two World Cup matches, including the semifinal between Germany and France, and in 1986 it hosted the European Cup final.
Regardless of outcome, Wednesday night will add another chapter to Sevilla's already impressive history. Neither Liverpool nor Sevilla have lost a final in the Europa League. Will Sevilla extend their already impressive record of Europa League cups? Or will Liverpool join them on their perch with four a piece? We can't wait to find out.