Weblog: The football punter

Europa finalists show admirable staying power

IT'S taken almost a year and it feels like a lifetime, but finally we've come to the Europa League's last instalment.

It could have been Dundalk versus Aberystwyth - I'm sure they were knocking around in last summer's pre-pre-qualifying bunfight - but instead we'll have to make do with Dnipro against Seville in the 2014-15 final in Warsaw.

You've got to admire what Dnipro have done to get here, which is go through an entire tournament without once managing to take to their own pitch. They've been playing their ‘home' games in Kiev.

And doubly amazing, they failed to score a single goal in their first three group games and were bottom of their group (and 500-1 for the tournament) going into the final round of games. Hats off to Nigel Pearson for what he did at Leicester, but Dnipro chieftain Myron Markevych should be on any coach of the year shortlist given what he's had to overcome.

But then what of Seville? The Europa League final will be the Spanish side's 60th game of the season, a sapping campaign which will have seen them play in nine different countries. Now that's what you call a workload, Arsene, and I don't remember the Seville gaffer ever moaning. Not that I read the Seville Chronicle and Echo on a regular basis mind you, but I bet he doesn't moan.

What I do know is that Dnipro are strong at the back and the Spanish outfit like to play on the counter. Which to my mind means it's going to be a really boring game in which under 2.5 goals is the bet.

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Match in Focus

17:30 Sa 30May BBC1

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • There has not been more than a one-goal margin of victory in the last ten FA Cup finals
Expert verdict
Arsenal are red-hot favourites to retain the FA Cup, but the holders face a trickier test than the odds suggest when they take on Aston Villa at Wembley. The Gunners will be reasonably happy with their form in the second half of the season, although they remain capable of chucking in dodgy performances under pressure.