Europa League 2018/2019 Final Preview

Europa League 2018/2019 Final Preview

Europa League Final Preview
Autor betsonly 16 May 2019

A preview of the Europa League final to be played in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 29th, between London sides Chelsea and Arsenal.

The final of the Europa League, like the Champions League Final, will be an all-English matter, with London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea set to meet in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 29th. The destination for the final has proved a controversial one, as it cannot be easily accessed from London, with both sets of fans, who have only been allocated 6,000 tickets apiece for a stadium with a capacity of 70,000 people, facing long and expensive journeys to support their teams. It may also prove a disadvantage to Arsenal because one of their players, Henrikh Mkhitaryan may not be able to play in the match. He is Armenian, and Azerbaijan bans citizens from that country from entering the country.

Arsenal have already played in Azerbaijan during this current campaign. Local side Qarabag were one of the teams that they met in the group phase alongside Portugal's Sporting Lisbon and Vorskla of Hungary. They negotiated that easily enough but began to struggle when the competition reached the knock-out stage. First in the round of 32 they met BATE Borisov and suffered the embarrassment of losing the first leg in Belarus before overcoming the deficit in London.

A similar scenario occurred in the next round; an away defeat at French side Rennes followed by a home win to secure place progression. However, underdogs going into their quarter final with favourites Napoli, they produced their best football of the tournament to win home and away to advance to a semi-final against Valencia. They came from behind to win 3 - 1 at The Emirates, and then beat the Spaniards 4 - 2 in front of their home fans.

At least until the semi-final stage, Chelsea had a more assured journey to the final. Comfortably topping a group that contained Vidi of Hungary, BATE Borisov and Greek side PAOK, they beat Swedish side Malmo both home and away in the Round of 32, and then thrashed Dynamo Kiev in the next phase of the competition, scoring 8 goals across the two ties without reply. That gave them a quarter-final tie with Slavia Prague, and, after winning in the Czech Republic, the West London side survived a comeback from the visitors at Stamford Bridge to progress.

However, their semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt was altogether a more difficult proposition. A draw in Germany seemed to favour Chelsea, but they were held to a draw in London, with the match going to extra time and penalties. Behind in the shoot-out, goalkeeper Kepa made some vital saves, and Eden Hazard scored the vital spot kick to send then to Baku.

The final is likely to be Hazard’s last game for the club, and he will want to go out on a high before a prospective transfer to Real Madrid in the summer. He is a potential match winner for Chelsea, and, if he can exploit Arsenal’s notoriously porous defence, he could well be the difference between the two sides. At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal’s strengths lies in their attacking duo of Alexander Lacazette. Keep them quiet and Chelsea win the match. However, if they fail to do so, Arsenal manager Unai Emery might yet lift a fourth Europa League.

Chelsea are the odds-on favourite to win at 1.71, whilst Arsenal are priced at 2.20.

*Odds are correct at the publish date.