By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
Spain's success on the football field continues. Sevilla's win in the Europa League on Wednesday night caps a superb season for La Liga ahead of an all-Spanish Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico. And after that, La Roja begin the defence of their World Cup crown.
Written off until relatively recently as a "two-team" tournament, La Liga will have produced the champions of both European competitions by the end of this season, with those two then set to meet in the Uefa Super Cup later in the summer.
Indeed, of the seven Spanish sides to feature in Europe's two competitions this term, four reached the semi-finals (Sevilla, Valencia, Atletico and Madrid), three made it into the final (the previous trio minus Valencia), two were knocked out by domestic rivals (Barcelona and Betis) and only one (Real Sociedad) was eliminated by teams from elsewhere after failing to make it beyond the group stages of the Champions League.
Spain's success in Europe
|1||Only one Spanish side (Real Sociedad) was knocked out by non-Spanish opposition|
|2||The two European competitions will be won by Spanish sides after Sevilla claimed the Europa League|
|3||Three out of the four European finalists are Spanish: Sevilla, Atletico and Madrid. Benfica was the other|
|5||Spanish sides have won five of the last nine Uefa Cup and Europa League titles (Sevilla 3; Atleti 2)|
|37||Madrid have scored more goals this season than any other team in a single Champions Leage edition|
It's an astounding achievement and proof that Spanish football still sets the benchmark for other leagues in Europe. "It reflects the hierarachy of Spanish football," said Spain's Secretary of State for Sport Miguel Cardenal on Wednesday night. And Atletico Madrid midfielder Tiago said recently: "Having two teams in the Champions League final is something to be proud of for Spain."
Spain's success in Europe this term is also a big boost for the nation ahead of their World Cup defence in Brazil next month and Vicente del Bosque, who was present in Turin for Wednesday's match which Sevilla won on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes against Benfica.
Double European champions and World Cup winners in 2010, Spain lost out in the Confederations Cup to Brazil last year, but arguably still boast the strongest squad ahead of this summer's showpiece competition and have also dominated at youth levels in recent years.
Success in Brazil will depend on other factors, including the team's ability to cope in hot and humid conditions, but Del Bosque's side will benefit from last year's Confed Cup experience and the former Madrid coach can call upon a group of players buoyed by their success in European competitions this term.
In an already special year and memorable epoque for Spanish football, winning a second World Cup would be the icing on the cake.