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Sevilla looks to underline Spanish dominance

Sevilla looks to underline Spanish dominance with 5 Champions League spots

Sevilla looks to underline Spanish dominance

WARSAW (AP) -- In Wednesday's Europa League final, Sevilla can make history in more ways than one.

Not only is the club aiming for a record fourth title in the competition, a victory over Ukrainian underdog Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk would next season give Spain five teams in a single edition of the Champions League for the first time.

Starting this season, the Europa League winners will earn a Champions League place as part of a UEFA plan to rekindle interest in its second-tier competition.

To have five teams in the world's biggest club competition - including a possible winner when Barcelona faces Juventus in the June 6 final - would mark a dramatic turnaround since Spain's dismal failure to defend its World Cup title last year.

"This year, there's a very important prize," Sevilla defender and captain Fernando Navarro said. "Can you just imagine if we get a trophy and next year we can have Sevilla in the Champions League? That would be a two-fold reason, even more motivation to try and get it."

Sevilla narrowly missed out on the Champions League via La Liga, trailing fourth-placed Valencia by a single point. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sevilla coach Unai Emery backs UEFA's rule change.

"This is a good decision that was taken, it's an added motivation. It improves on the Europa League," Emery said. "The Champions League, it's an extra step (for Sevilla)."

However, the reigning champion would lose the chance to become the first club to win the competition three times in a row.

Should Dnipro win on Wednesday, Ukraine would have a third representative in the Champions League after Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk.

So far, England is the only nation to have fielded five Champions League teams in one season. Liverpool failed to qualify for a defense of its 2005 title, but was entered by UEFA for the qualifying stages. The rules were then changed to prevent this happening again.

Updated : 2021-09-22 08:26 GMT+08:00