In Jurgen Klopp’s first season as Liverpool manager back in 2016 he guided the club to a Europa League final, but his Reds team was put to the sword by the competition’s most successful club, Sevilla.
The Andalusian outfit took to the St. Jakob-Park turf in Basel as the reigning champions and four-time winners of the tournament, including back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, and 2014 and 2015. Here was a chance for Los Palanganas to make it a record five triumphs and an unprecedented three on the spin.
Under the auspices of Unai Emery, Sevilla were European specialists, while Klopp in the opposing dugout was garnering a bit of a reputation, at the time, for falling flat at the last hurdle, having lost four of his five finals with both Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.
In fairness to the German he inherited Brendan Rodgers’ squad midway through autumn of the 2015/16 campaign. Despite this, he was also able to mastermind progression to a League Cup final in February (which they lost to Manchester City on penalties).
Klopp’s side took the lead against Sevilla through Daniel Sturridge, but a rousing turnaround after the break saw the Spaniards net thrice and taste glory for the third time in as many years.
It was a meticulously crafted squad, ranging from World Cup winners to West Brom flops, but what exactly happened to Emery’s 2015/16 Sevilla side in the aftermath of their three-peat triumph? We’ve taken a look to see where each player is now.
Goalkeeper: David Soria
Sevilla appearances: 36
Current club: Getafe
The Madrid-born ‘keeper went from three unsuccessful trials in England with Leicester, Birmingham and Stoke during his formative years to the glittering heights of European glory several years later. An undisputed cup goalkeeper, Soria was Emery’s go-to man between the sticks during their 2015/16 Europa League run.
A mistake in the quarter-finals against Athletic Bilbao allowed Aritz Aduriz to find the back of the net, but his subsequent heroics in the shoot-out rectified that clanger and culminated in a Europa League Squad of the Season place. Despite impressing in Europe, the 28-year-old never managed to hold down a consistent first-team berth in La Liga and has since moved on to Getafe, where he is now a mainstay in the club’s starting XI.
Sevilla appearances: 80
Current club: Atletico Mineiro
Following the sale of Aleix Vidal to Barcelona, Emery needed to bolster his backline with fresh recruits, and one of those came in the guise of Brazilian full-back Mariano from Bordeaux. The attacking right-back marked his maiden campaign at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan with his second piece of silverware on the continent, having clinched the Coupe de France with the Girondins in 2012/13.
Mariano netted in the semi-finals against Shakhtar Donetsk and played the full 90 minutes against Liverpool in the showpiece event. He stayed in Andalusia under Jorge Sampaoli for one more season before relocating to Istanbul with Galatasaray, and more recently, rejoining Atletico Mineiro in his native Brazil, whom he originally represented 13 years ago. Mariano subsequently linked up with Sampaoli once again, who was in charge of the Belo Horizonte side until Marseille came calling earlier this year.
Centre-back: Adil Rami
Adil Rami: "After the World Cup Final, the President of Croatia looked at me and said 'nice moustache'. And I told her, 'I love Mykonos'. I don't know why, I've always confused Greece and Croatia."
"Then, Olivier Giroud looks at me and says: 'Are you stupid? Mykonos is Greece." pic.twitter.com/DPLYue5olI
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) January 3, 2019
Sevilla appearances: 79
Current club: Boavista
Rami joined Sevilla to much fanfare and was delighted to reunite with Emery, whom he worked alongside with during his stint at Valencia. “He is one of the greatest coaches in the world”, was the ringing endorsement bestowed on the ex-Arsenal man by Rami, and together the pair lifted the Europa League title.
Like Mariano, Rami plied his trade in Andalusia for just two seasons before he returned to more familiar surroundings, joining Marseille. During his time at the Stade Velodrome he went on to lift the World Cup with France, despite not playing in any of the nation’s seven matches in Russia. He was eventually sacked by Marseille for ‘gross misconduct’ after reportedly skipping training to take part in mud wrestling on a reality TV show. Bizarre doesn’t even begin to do that saga justice.
Rami has since represented Fenerbahce, but left by mutual termination in February 2020, and Sochi in Russia, but again, left without playing a single game and like a true bird of passage is now donning the colours of Boavista.
Centre-back: Daniel Carrico
Sevilla appearances: 79
Current club: Wuhan Zall
The one-time Portugal international started in all three finals for Sevilla under Emery. In 2013/14 Carrico helped the club beat Benfica at the Juventus Stadium whilst on loan from Championship club Reading, partnering Stephane Mbia in midfield.
For the next two finals, he started at centre-back, and that tactical tweak yielded the same result as Sevilla first took out Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and then Liverpool. In the years since Emery’s departure, Carrico has been a peripheral figure for Sevilla and he recently joined Chinese club Wuhan Zall in February 2020.
Left-back: Sergio Escudero
Sevilla appearances: 174
Current club: Sevilla
Part of Schalke’s famous 2010/11 DFB-Pokal-winning squad, which included players like Raul, Manuel Neuer and Joel Matip, Escudero unfortunately couldn’t wrangle his way into that star-studded line-up on a consistent basis and eventually returned to Spain with Getafe in 2013, before Sevilla snapped him up.
This was also Escudero’s maiden campaign at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and he too marked it with European success. And, despite the comings and goings in the ensuing years, including transfer guru Monchi overseeing a multitude of sales and acquisitions, Escudero has stuck around.
Central midfield: Grzegorz Krychowiak
Sevilla appearances: 90
Current club: Lokomotiv Moscow
The Polish enforcer was sensational for Sevilla during his two seasons at the club, winning consecutive Europa Leagues, and being named in the 2014/15 La Liga Team of the Season. Such was the impression he left on Emery, that when the Spaniard parted for Parisian giants PSG, he took his midfield general with him.
Things didn’t quite work out in the French capital for Krychowiak and he subsequently joined West Brom on loan for the 2017/18 season. The Baggies may be back in the big time now, but fans will not want reminding of their last stint in the top-flight, where they finished rock bottom and went through four managers in just one campaign, including Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew.
It was always safe to assume Krychowiak wouldn’t stick around at the Hawthorns following their relegation. To go from beating Liverpool in a Europa League final one season to shuttling across the turf against Rotherham just two years later would have been quite the fall from grace. He opted for Russia instead, where he currently turns out for Lokomotiv Moscow.
Central midfield: Steven Nzonzi
Sevilla appearances: 136
Current club: Rennes (on loan from Roma)
The one-time Stoke Player of the Year and Blackburn Player of the Year joined Sevilla that season and went on to form a impressive partnership with Krychowiak despite some initial teething problems in trying to acclimate to La Liga. Once he settled, his authoritative showings prompted Roma to come sniffing around and he transferred to the Italian capital in 2018/19 before going out on loan to Galatasaray.
His temporary stint in Istanbul was cut short after disciplinary issues culminated in a suspension from the club and his subsequent return to Rome, where he went on to join Rennes on loan.
Central attacking midfield: Ever Banega
Sevilla appearances: 234
Current club: Al-Shabab
Having played under Emery at Valencia it was not too long before the duo were reunited in Andalusia with Emery acquiring the dynamic playmaker’s services for a cut-price deal, and he immediately went on to form a key part in the Spaniard’s system. Protected by the double-pivot of Nzonzi and Krychowiak, Banega was given free rein to operate in the attacking third and link play.
He made over 200 appearances for Los Palanganas across two separate spells in six years, with a brief sojourn at Inter Milan in 2016/17 coming in between, and he has since moved to Saudi Arabian club Al-Shabab.
Right wing: Coke
Sevilla appearances: 172
Current club: Levante
With Michael Krohn-Dehli out injured, Coke, a right-back by trade, started the final against Liverpool in midfield, and he played an absolute blinder. Skippering the side on the day, Coke went on to bag a six-minute brace in the second half and was handed the man-of-the-match award as a result.
That performance sparked interest from abroad and Schalke brought him to the Bundesliga that summer, but a cruciate ligament injury to his right knee blighted his career in Germany and he has since retuned to Spain, now donning the colours of Levante.
Left wing: Vitolo
Sevilla appearances: 177
Current club: Atletico Madrid
Vitolo is another who started in all three final successes, but like many in this squad, he too would leave shortly after Emery’s departure. The 12-capped Spain international stayed onboard for another season but eventually moved north to the capital under Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.
The Las Palmas-born attacker picked up his fourth Europa League title with Atleti in 2017/18 after Simeone’s men beat Marseille in the final 3-0. The 31-year-old is still on the books in Madrid, but largely sits on the fringes and is utilised as more of an impact sub.
Striker: Kevin Gameiro
Sevilla appearances: 144
Current club: Valencia
The Frenchman began the initial comeback against Liverpool, scoring just 15 seconds after the restart to draw the game level, and set the stage for Coke’s ensuing masterclass. That season Gameiro netted 29 goals across all competitions and naturally alerted the elite clubs, with Atletico Madrid winning the race for his signature.
Since leaving the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Gameiro hasn’t quite been able to replicate his Sevilla days, and after just two years with Atleti he joined Valencia, where he plays to this day. But, with a return of just 15 La Liga goals in three seasons, it’s safe to say the Frenchman’s peak years are behind him.
Sevilla appearances: 91
Current club: Saint-Etienne
The French defender added two Europa League titles to his trophy cabinet with Sevilla before leaving in 2017 for Borussia Monchengladbach, where he went on to make just two appearances. A spell in Mexico with Tigres UANL soon followed but he is now back in France with Saint-Etienne.
Sevilla appearances: 173
Current club: Villarreal
After winning three Europa League titles in his first three seasons with Sevilla, and following up with another impressive campaign, Leicester thought they pulled off a coup when they required Iborra’s services for £15m in 2017. But, a combination of injuries and inconsistencies in the dugout hampered his progress and he ultimately joined Villarreal midway through the 2018/19 campaign.
Sevilla appearances: 56
Current club: Girona
The uncapped Uruguayan came on to run down the clock in Basel, entering the fray in the 93rd minute for South American teammate Banega. That summer he was loaned out to Fiorentina for the season, and his move was made permanent the following campaign, but further loan spells followed for Cristoforo before he joined Segunda Division side Girona in October.
Europa League final 2016: Team line-ups
Soria, Mariano, Rami, Carrico, Escudero, N’Zonzi, Krychowiak, Coke, Banega, Vitolo, Gameiro.
Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, K Toure, Moreno, Milner, Can, Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho, Sturridge.