London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal meet in an all-English Europa League final on Wednesday, 2,500 miles from home at Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.
The build-up to the final has been marred by the controversy surrounding Uefa’s choice of venue, but it is now time for the football to do the talking as familiar foes.
It is the first leg in a week of European finals dominated by England, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur contesting the Champions League showpiece in Madrid on Saturday.
However, there will not be much of an English atmosphere at the Baku Olympic Stadium when the match kicks off at 7pm(GMT), with reportedly only around 6,000 tickets sold by the clubs in a ground which holds almost 70,000.
The distances and costs involved and the difficulty in getting to Baku have prevented more fans from travelling, while Arsenal are also handicapped by the absence of Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
He decided not to travel because of fears over his safety due to an ongoing political dispute between Azerbaijan and his home country, Armenia.
Unai Emery‘s players have promised to try to win the trophy for Mkhitaryan, and the stakes are certainly high for the Gunners.
After finishing fifth in the Premier League, two points behind Chelsea in third and one point behind Tottenham, Arsenal have to win to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Emery is no stranger to the finals as he has won this competition three times with Sevilla between 2014 and 2016.
However though his opposite number Maurizio Sarri has never won a major honour as a manager. Things did not look well with him as he stormed off the pitch at the Olympic Stadium during a training session on Tuesday evening that was open to the media.
Television cameras caught the Italian angrily throwing away his baseball cap as he headed for the tunnel shortly after a moment of friction between David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain.
Sarri, who has been heavily linked with a move to Juventus, had earlier said winning the final would turn a “very good season” into a “wonderful” one.
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