The favourites for this year's Europa League final should be Benfica due to their championship winning form in Portugal, their experience in Europe and their consistency, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who tips them over Sevilla despite the Spanish side's possession of three "excellent players".
Sevilla went unbeaten in their group and knocked out FC Porto and Valencia en route to the final, to be contested on May 14 in Torino. Benfica, meanwhile, kayoed Premier League representatives Tottenham Hotspur and Serie A giants Juventus.
"It is advantage Benfica," said Wenger, previewing the showdown for Eurosport. "But European finals are like national finals, so anything can happen. But if I had to bet, I’d bet on Benfica as they have earned merit for their consistency. Step by step, they are being rewarded for the quality of their work."
Wenger noted the qualities of £10.5m-rated Brazilian striker Lima, who has netted 14 times with five assists in the Primeira Liga, and has scored four times from seven outings in the Europa League.
"Lima has overshadowed Oscar Cardoso a bit, because he has been injured for a while. Lima was already known from last year, but he didn’t play all the time because Cardoso was already physically present. Lima is a more mobile player. Cardoso has been injured for a very long time, so Lima has been more present."
Concluding, Wenger noted that Sevilla have an abundance of experience. Players who had represented big clubs but had failed to make their mark, moved to Andalusia and nurtured their skill-set further to establish themselves at the top.
"They are showing that they have the quality, and players like that, they bite in finals. Benfica will still have to be careful because [Kevin] Gameiro, [Stephan] M’Bia, [Ivan] Rakitic are all excellent players."