The hosts confirmed a top-four finish last weekend despite going down 2-1 to Atletico Madrid, while Los Palanganas’ spate of Europa League successes continued with victory over Roma in the showpiece match.
Real Sociedad may have fallen short at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano fortress last weekend – as many teams have throughout the season – but Imanol Alguacil’s men were still jumping for joy at the final whistle, as results elsewhere assured them of a spot at Europe’s top table.
A sublime individual performance from Antoine Griezmann put Sociedad to the sword, as the Frenchman picked out the bottom corner before setting up Nahuel Molina to finish off a well-worked team move, and a late Alexander Sorloth strike could not spark a late turnaround in the Spanish capital.
However, news soon filtered through that Villarreal had been beaten by Rayo Vallecano, and the party began for Sociedad on Atletico’s turf as Alguacil’s side celebrated their merited return to the promised land of the Champions League, where they have been absent since the 2013-14 season.
Sociedad’s fourth-placed ranking will not be impacted by results anywhere on Sunday, as Atletico’s triumph last weekend – which ended a seven-game unbeaten run for Alguacil’s side – extinguished their hopes of a podium finish, but few have out-performed the hosts at Reale Arena in recent memory.
Indeed, Sociedad have taken 16 points from the last 18 on offer in front of their own supporters and have lost just once at Reale Arena in 2023 so far, but as is the case with their visitors, complacency may creep in for Alguacil’s side with their European quest now completed.
Preview: Real Sociedad vs. Sevilla – prediction, team news, lineups
If any coach was going to quell the Europa League juggernaut that is Sevilla, serial continental champion Jose Mourinho would have been a safe bet, but the impassioned Portuguese was left red-faced in more ways than one during Wednesday’s final at the Puskas Arena.
Roma were on course to inflict a rare Europa League defeat on Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side when Paulo Dybala drew first blood, but a Gianluca Mancini own goal forced extra time and the dreaded penalty shootout, where Mancini and Roger Ibanez were both thwarted by Bono before another Sevilla star replicated his heroics from Qatar.
Nearly six months on from scoring the game-winning spot kick in the World Cup final, Gonzalo Montiel initially failed to make lightning strike twice, but referee Anthony Taylor awarded a retake after Rui Patricio stepped off his line, and the Argentine made no mistake at his second bite of the cherry to propel Sevilla to a record-extending seventh Europa League crown.
While the fallout from the final has been centred around the disgraceful treatment of vilified referee Taylor – who was the target of Mourinho’s verbal attacks and was accosted by Roma fans at an airport with his family – Sevilla somehow went from flirting with La Liga relegation to yet another continental crown, and with it a spot in next year’s Champions League alongside Sociedad.
A three-game winless run in La Liga building up to the Europa League final has left Mendilibar’s side languishing in 11th place – not that the Palanganas faithful will care at this point – and Sociedad bested Sevilla 2-1 earlier in the campaign, but no scoreline should spoil the Champions League party for either set of supporters on Sunday.
Real Sociedad La Liga form:
Sevilla La Liga form:
Sevilla form (all competitions):
We say: Real Sociedad 0-0 Sevilla
In what is the true definition of a dead rubber, neither Sociedad nor Sevilla will deploy their strongest starting lineups at Reale Arena, where fans should prepare for a relatively uneventful encounter between two sides who already have an eye on their holidays.