Sports

May 22, 2024

Europa League final: Lookman takes on Boniface, Tella in quest for glory

Europa League final: Lookman takes on Boniface, Tella in quest for glory

The 2024 Europa League final will be a Nigerian affair as Ademola Lookman (Atalanta) battles Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella (Bayer Leverkusen) for glory.

The German champions take on Atalanta in the Europa League final in Dublin on Wednesday before facing second-tier Kaiserslautern in Saturday’s German Cup final.

Leverkusen made Bundesliga history by romping to their first-ever title without losing, and are yet to taste defeat in 51 games in all competitions this season.

Lookman scored the first goal in the 3-0 win over Marseille in the second leg of the Europa League semifinal, with his side beating French side Marseille 4-1 on aggregate to qualify for the final in Dublin. In the other fixture, both Boniface and Tella were unused substitutes as Leverkusen scored two late goals to draw 2-2 against Roma and qualify 4-2 on aggregate.

Ademola Lookman has netted 12 goals and provided 8 assists for Atlanta this season. Boniface has enjoyed a good debut season in Germany, scoring 21 goals and providing 10 assists, despite being out of action for three months. Also, Tella has added some depth to the Leverkusen side, scoring 7 goals and providing 6 assists.

With the two clubs chasing glory, a win for Atalanta would mark the Italians’ first trophy in 61 years after losing three Coppa Italia finals in the last six seasons, most recently to Juventus less than a week ago.

Bayer Leverkusen, who recently made history in the Bundesliga by winning their first title without losing a game, now seeks to overcome their past reputation of reaching finals without winning. This was notably seen in the 2001/02 season, when they finished as runners-up in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and Champions League.

Regardless of the outcome, a Nigerian is set to win the Europa League at the end of 90 minutes, extra time, or penalties.

Victor Moses is the only Nigerian to have won the Europa League twice, with Chelsea in 2013 and 2019. John Mikel Obi with Chelsea in 2013 and, most recently, Samuel Chukwueze with Villareal in 2021.