The Europa League ends this Wednesday in Budapest, the capital decades ago of one of the most important football schools in football, the cradle of the Hungarian team that in 1952 destroyed England at Wembley, an occasion that has gone down in history as the Game of the Century. That immense prestige began to evaporate in the 80s, until it was lost in the current haze, but the indelible mark of great players like Puskas, Boszik, Kocsis and Florian Albert remains. A great setting, therefore, for the final that Sevilla and Roma will play, led by Mendilibar and Mourinho, two coaches who have traveled through football with opposite profiles and very different paths.
There is no possibility of disassociating Sevilla’s season from the impact of Mendilibar, hired in March until the end of the season, with the team rushing through the table, in the midst of anguish that no one imagined in a club used to playing in the Champions League and winning the Europa League. Mendilibar arrived at an agonizing Seville, divided by internal wars and leaning towards the bottom of the League. The rescue was to save the furniture in the Spanish championship. The European adventure was given a secondary value.
Sevilla claimed Mendilibar for a career that has taken place mainly in teams subjected to the double vertigo of promotion and relegation, a fine line that he has traveled in Valladolid, Osasuna and Eibar. In that inhospitable territory, Mendilibar acquired the excellent reputation that Sevilla’s call deserved, without any apparent contraindication. A man of character, no nonsense, devoted to football with admirable honesty and passion, a footballer’s coach, not costumes, provided with a model that is as clear and well-known as it is demanding, Mendilibar has entered Sevilla like a glove.
Throughout the season, Sevilla had gotten used to entanglement and dissatisfaction. A team accustomed to success lost all its light. Packaging players, some of them recent World Cup winners, were disappointed by the general perplexity, to the point of questioning their real quality. A connection worked in favor of Sevilla and Mendilibar: through Dmitrovic, Jordan and Bryan Gil -former Eibar players- the club had the best news from the coach, who in turn could perfectly take advantage of a squad with numerous footballers tailored to his needs .
Another essential aspect in Mendilibar’s career has been his ability to play big with small teams, destined for attacking football, with players in the rival field, deep full-backs, wide-open wingers and big-bodied forwards, headers. All of that was in the squad and he didn’t waste a minute taking advantage of it, in exchange for an absolute commitment from the players, in every game and against any team. The response was instantaneous, first in the League, then in the Europa League, against Manchester United and Juve, two historic football powers.
Seville is now characterized by the fire lost for many months. He bears the mark printed by his coach, one of those characters that suits football. They make it healthier. In Budapest they will face Roma, led by Mourinho, a coach who has gone through the best teams in the world and has won all imaginable trophies. The designs of football and several previous disappointments have led him there.
Mourinho is adored in Rome, like Mendilibar in Seville. Rarely will a final bring together two more disparate coaches in their professional career and in their vision of football. One is distinguished by nobility and sincerity. The other prefers the malicious approach and mind games.
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Source: EL PAIS