Glory Beckons in the Europa League Final
15 May 2018, 11:29
Glory Beckons in the Europa League Final

The first major European silverware of the season will be decided on Wednesday night as Marseille meet Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final.  The match will be played at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, a new venue which was constructed for the 2016 European Championships in France.

Both teams are searching for their first European success for many years, with Marseille last winning the Champions League in 1992/93 and Atletico Madrid winning the Europa League in 2011/12.  A fantastic night is in prospect.

Marseille come into the match having been held to a 3-3 draw at Guingamp in Ligue 1 on the weekend and that leaves them outside the Champions League qualifying places in France. Therefore, a win in this game would hand them a double boost of a European title and Champions League football next season.

The French club started the season in the Europa League and despite winning only two of their group matches finished second to progress to the Round of 32.  Having been paired with Portuguese club Braga, Marseille took advantage of being at home in the first leg to build a 3-0 lead before going through 3-1 on aggregate.

The Round of 16 also saw Marseille at home in the first leg against Athletic Bilbao and they won both legs 3-1 and 2-1 respectively.  The quarter-final was the first time Marseille were away in the first leg and they lost 1-0 at RB Leipzig.  However, Rudi Garcia’s team overturned the deficit in spectacular fashion, winning 5-2 in the Stade Velodrome.

In the semi-final, Marseille won the first leg at home 2-0 against Red Bull Salzburg but fell 2-0 behind in the second leg, which resulted in extra-time.  With the match seemingly going to penalties, Marseille struck with a later winner to send them through to the final.

Atletico Madrid were surprisingly knocked out of the Champions League at the group stages and immediately entered the knockout stages of the Europa League as the favourites to win the competition.

They had little trouble in despatching FC Copenhagen 5-1 on aggregate before taking apart Lokomotiv Moscow 3-0 and 5-1 in the two legs of their Round of 16 tie.  Into the quarter-final and Atletico Madrid found things tougher against Sporting Lisbon but the 2-0 lead from the first leg in Spain was enough to take them through, despite losing 1-0 in the Portuguese capital.

The semi-final saw a huge tie against Arsenal, one of the early favourites to win the Europa League this season.  A late equaliser in the first leg saw Atletico Madrid take a crucial away goal with them for the match at the Wanda Metropolitano.  A single goal in that game was enough to send Atletico Madrid through to the final.

Team news and Marseille have doubts over the fitness of central defender Rolando and if he fails to make it, midfielder Luiz Gustavo may be forced into defence.  Kostas Mitroglou is also struggling and that could see a place in attack for Valere Germain.

Atletico Madrid could be without Jose Gimenez and Vitolo with Stefan Savic and Angel Correa ready to step in if required.  Sime Vrsaljko returns from suspension but Diego Simeone may opt to go with the experience of Juanfran at right-back.

Given Atletico Madrid’s recent history in the Champions League and their overall quality compared to Marseille, the Spanish club must be the favourites to win this game.  If they can score a single goal, Atletico Madrid know they can keep it tight at the back to win the Europa League.

More from Europa League
Europa League Final

The first of two European club finals takes place this week as Atletico Madrid take on Marseille for the right to be called Europa League winners for 2018. Diego Simeone’s men beat Arsenal over two legs while their opponents from Southern France were tested by Red Bull Salzburg in the Semi-finals.

More Articles...