The Europa League Final will be contested tonight in the Stadion Miejski, Gdańsk between Manchester United and Villarreal. Regardless of the winner, tonight will confirm a decade of dominance in the competition by both English and Spanish clubs.
The last time a club outside of these two leagues won the Europa League was in 2010/11 when Porto defeated Braga in Dublin (I was there). Since then Spanish clubs have won the title 6 times, and English clubs 3 times.
Such dominance by two leagues is unprecedented in the 50 year history of the tournament. It strikes at the heart of competitive balance. Where are the other leagues gone? There has not been a Italian winner since 1999 (Parma) and no German winner since Schalke in 1997.
It would appear than the depth of the English and Spanish leagues is helping teams progress in the Europa League with no little help from the Champions League back-door route. Manchester United will have taken this road should they win tonight, and Seville's remarkable record since 2006 (winning the trophy 6 times!) has been ably assisted by a Champions League Group Stage exit.
Given the quality of the Premier League and La Liga, continued dominance in this competition is likely. A final in Seville, Spain next year will certainly help motivate La Liga clubs. As if Seville needed an extra help in the Europa League!