2019 UEFA Europa League Final
The 2019 UEFA Europa League Final was the final match of the 2018–19 UEFA Europa League, the 48th season of Europe's secondary club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 10th season since it was renamed from the UEFA Cup to the UEFA Europa League. It was played at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan on 29 May 2019, between English sides Chelsea and Arsenal who had beaten Frankfurt and Valencia respectively in the semi-finals making the final a London derby. It was the tenth tournament final to feature two teams from the same association, the second all-English final and the first between teams from the same city.
|Event||2018–19 UEFA Europa League|
|Date||29 May 2019|
|Venue||Olympic Stadium, Baku|
|Man of the Match||Eden Hazard (Chelsea)|
|Referee||Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)|
21 °C (70 °F)
Chelsea won the final 4–1 for their second UEFA Europa League title. As winners, they earned the right to play against Liverpool, the winners of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League, in the 2019 UEFA Super Cup. As Chelsea had already qualified for the Champions League group stage through their league performance, the group stage berth reserved for the Europa League winners was given to the third-placed team of the 2018–19 Ligue 1, Lyon, as the French Football Federation, which oversees Ligue 1, was the 5th-ranked association according to next season's access list.
Starting from this season, the Europa League final was played in the same week as the Champions League final. In March 2018, UEFA announced that a fourth substitution would be allowed in extra time and that the number of substitutes had been increased from 7 to 12. The kick-off time was also changed from 20:45 CEST to 21:00 CEST. It was the first Europa League match ever to use the video assistant referee (VAR) system.
In the following table, finals until 2009 were in the UEFA Cup era, since 2010 were in the UEFA Europa League era.
|Team||Previous final appearances (bold indicates winners)|
This was the first European club competition final to be held in Azerbaijan. The stadium had also been chosen as one of the host venues of UEFA Euro 2020.
For the first time ever, an open bidding process was launched on 9 December 2016 by UEFA to select the venues of the club competition finals (UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Women's Champions League and UEFA Super Cup). Associations had until 27 January 2017 to express interest, and bid dossiers must be submitted by 6 June 2017.
|Azerbaijan||Baku Olympic Stadium||Baku||69,870||Also bid for 2019 UEFA Champions League Final|
|Spain||Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán||Seville||42,500|
|Turkey||Vodafone Park||Istanbul||41,903||Also bid for 2019 UEFA Super Cup|
The following associations expressed interest in hosting but eventually did not submit bids:
- Georgia: Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi
- Germany: Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stuttgart (preferred over Commerzbank-Arena, Frankfurt)
- Scotland: Hampden Park, Glasgow
The bid evaluation report was published by UEFA on 14 September 2017. The Baku Olympic Stadium was selected as the venue by the UEFA Executive Committee on 20 September 2017, while the Vodafone Park was successful in its bid to host the 2019 UEFA Super Cup.
Chelsea were playing in their second Europa League final, having won 2–1 against Benfica in 2013. The match was their sixth overall European final, adding to two Cup Winners' Cup finals in 1971 (a 2–1 win over Real Madrid) and 1998 (a 1–0 win over Stuttgart), and two UEFA Champions League finals in 2008 (1–1, lost 6–5 on penalties to Manchester United) and 2012 (1–1, won 4–3 on penalties over Bayern Munich). In seventeen matches, Chelsea entered the match with a record of six wins, seven draws (two of which they lost on penalties), and four losses in European competitions against fellow English clubs. Most recently, they lost both legs against Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the 2010–11 Champions League.
It was also Arsenal's second Europa League final, having lost on penalties to Galatasaray in 2000. Like Chelsea, it was the sixth time they appeared in the final of a UEFA competition. They most recently featured in the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final, losing 2–1 to Barcelona. They also reached the final of the Cup Winners' Cup three times: in 1980, when they suffered a 5–4 penalty shoot-out defeat to Valencia following a 0–0 draw; 1994, beating Parma 1–0; and returning in 1995, losing 2–1 at the hands of Real Zaragoza. Arsenal had previously won 4–3 on aggregate against Anderlecht in the 1970 final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, a forerunner to the UEFA Cup/Europa League. Arsenal were winless in their six prior meetings against fellow English clubs, with a record of two draws and four losses. Most recently, they lost both legs against Manchester United in the semi-finals of the 2008–09 Champions League. The match was the fourth Europa League final for manager Unai Emery, who joined Arsenal at the start of the season as the replacement for Arsène Wenger. Emery has a perfect record in Europa League finals, winning three consecutive titles with Sevilla in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He now solely holds the record for the most UEFA Cup/Europa League final appearances, having previously been tied with the three finals of Giovanni Trapattoni (1977, 1991, and 1993) and Sven-Göran Eriksson (1982, 1983, and 1998). A win would have seen him surpass Trapattoni and become the outright most successful manager in the competition's history, with four titles.
The final was the 198th competitive meeting between London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal, with a record of 76 Arsenal wins, 63 Chelsea wins and 58 draws going into the match. The sides met twice during the 2018–19 Premier League season, with each winning at home: Chelsea by a score of 3–2 in the first match, and Arsenal 2–0 in the second. They faced each other once before in a European tie, meeting in the quarter-finals of the 2003–04 Champions League; the first match finished as a 1–1 draw, with Chelsea winning the second meeting 2–1 away and advancing to the semi-finals. Domestically, the sides have met in three cup finals, with Arsenal winning the 2002 and 2017 FA Cup finals, and Chelsea winning the 2007 Football League Cup Final.
The match was the second all-English UEFA Cup/Europa League final, after the inaugural final in 1972 between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur. Overall, it was the tenth UEFA Cup/Europa League final to feature two teams from the same country, previously achieved four times by Italian teams (1990, 1991, 1995, and 1998), twice by Spanish teams (2007 and 2012), and once by German (1980) and Portuguese teams (2011), in addition to England in 1972. This was the first Europa League final to feature two teams from the same city (London), as well as the fourth in a UEFA club competition final after Madrid-based clubs Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid, who met in the 2014 and 2016 finals of the Champions League, as well as in the 2018 UEFA Super Cup. As Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool also reached the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final, this is the first season to have multiple finals of major European club competitions featuring teams from a single nation.
Road to the final
Note: In all results below, the score of the finalist is given first (H: home; A: away).
|PAOK||1–0 (A)||Matchday 1||Vorskla Poltava||4–2 (H)|
|MOL Vidi||1–0 (H)||Matchday 2||Qarabağ||3–0 (A)|
|BATE Borisov||3–1 (H)||Matchday 3||Sporting CP||1–0 (A)|
|BATE Borisov||1–0 (A)||Matchday 4||Sporting CP||0–0 (H)|
|PAOK||4–0 (H)||Matchday 5||Vorskla Poltava||3–0 (A)|
|MOL Vidi||2–2 (A)||Matchday 6||Qarabağ||1–0 (H)|
|Group L winners
|Final standings||Group E winners
|Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg||Knockout phase||Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg|
|Malmö FF||5–1||2–1 (A)||3–0 (H)||Round of 32||BATE Borisov||3–1||0–1 (A)||3–0 (H)|
|Dynamo Kyiv||8–0||3–0 (H)||5–0 (A)||Round of 16||Rennes||4–3||1–3 (A)||3–0 (H)|
|Slavia Prague||5–3||1–0 (A)||4–3 (H)||Quarter-finals||Napoli||3–0||2–0 (H)||1–0 (A)|
|Eintracht Frankfurt||2–2 (4–3 p)||1–1 (A)||1–1 (a.e.t.) (H)||Semi-finals||Valencia||7–3||3–1 (H)||4–2 (A)|
The brand identity for the final was unveiled at the group stage draw on 31 August 2018, taking inspiration from several prominent buildings in Baku. The logo also incorporates Azerbaijan's nickname, the "Land of Fire", by adding a flame to the letter "A", and a common design in Azerbaijani rugs.
The ambassador for the final is former Netherlands international Pierre van Hooijdonk, who won the 2001–02 UEFA Cup with Feyenoord and finished as the top scorer, in which he scored two goals in the final win against Borussia Dortmund.
Ticketing and travel
With a stadium capacity of 64,000 for the final, a total amount of 37,500 tickets are available to fans and the general public, with the two finalist teams receiving 6,000 tickets each, and with the other tickets being available for sale to fans worldwide via UEFA.com from 7 to 21 March 2019 in four price categories: €140, €90, €50, and €30. The remaining tickets are allocated to the local organising committee, national associations, commercial partners, and broadcasters, and to serve the corporate hospitality programme.
The handling of ticket pricing and travel logistics for English fans, including limited flights and visa requirements to enter Azerbaijan, was criticised by supporters groups representing fans of the two clubs. Heydar Aliyev International Airport, the main airport serving Baku, was described as "too small" to accommodate the expected demand of the Europa League final, and was cited as a reason for the small ticket allocation for travelling fans. Arsenal and Chelsea had failed to sell out their individual allocations by the deadline in late May and planned to return 6,000 unsold tickets to UEFA; several sponsors with their own allocations also followed suit, citing disinterest from their clients. In an official statement, Arsenal called UEFA's decision to host the match in Baku an "unacceptable" situation that "cannot be repeated".
UEFA was also criticised for accepting Azerbaijan as the host of the Europa League final, due to its ongoing conflict with neighbouring Armenia. Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who plays for Arsenal, was given permission to play in the match, but the club raised their concerns about his safety while in the country. Mkhitaryan and Arsenal ultimately decided that he would not travel with the squad to the final match, while the club planned to meet with UEFA after the match to discuss the situation. Several fans from the United Kingdom of Armenian descent were initially denied their entry visas, but allowed into the country after intervention from UEFA. Amnesty International's UK branch criticised the choice of Azerbaijan on the basis of its human rights violations, calling the hosting of the final an "attempt to sportswash its image".
The match had an official attendance of 51,370, making it the third-largest crowd for a Europa League final, but the stadium had large sections of empty seats. Football commentators also decried the lack of atmosphere due to the empty seats and lack of interest from local residents. A report in The Times claimed that local authorities had opened the turnstiles for ticketless fans during the first half to increase attendance and avoid embarrassment, without the authorisation of UEFA.
The first UEFA Europa League Trophy Tour visited eight European cities, beginning on 5 March 2019 at the Geneva Motor Show, followed by Seville, Berlin, London, Milan, Moscow, and Paris, before concluding at the host city Baku on 16 May 2019.
On 13 May 2019, UEFA named Italian Gianluca Rocchi as the referee for the final. Rocchi has been a FIFA referee since 2008, and was previously the fourth official in the 2010 and 2017 Europa League finals. He also officiated the 2017 UEFA Super Cup between Real Madrid and Manchester United. He was joined by five of his fellow countrymen, with Filippo Meli and Lorenzo Manganelli as assistant referees, Daniele Orsato as the fourth official, Massimiliano Irrati as the video assistant referee, and Marco Guida as one of the assistant VAR officials. The other assistant VAR for the final was Szymon Marciniak from Poland, with his compatriot Paweł Sokolnicki serving as the offside VAR official.
In a scoreless first half, Granit Xhaka had a shot for Arsenal that clipped the top of the bar and his teammate, Petr Čech, saved low to his left from Chelsea's Olivier Giroud. Giroud opened the scoring for Chelsea in the 49th minute with a low header to the left corner from 12 yards out after a cross from Emerson Palmieri on the left. Pedro made it 2–0 in the 60th minute when he steered a low shot into the right corner from 12 yards out after a low pass from Eden Hazard on the left. Five minutes later, Chelsea were awarded a penalty after a foul on Giroud by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, which Eden Hazard rolled into the left corner, sending Čech the wrong way. Arsenal pulled a goal back in the 69th minute with a powerful right-footed shot from substitute Alex Iwobi from outside the penalty area, but Chelsea made it 4–1 three minutes later with another goal from Hazard, a side-footed shot into the right corner from eight yards out after a pass from Giroud.
The "home" team (for administrative purposes) was determined by an additional draw held after the quarter-final and semi-final draws, which was held on 15 March 2019 at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
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