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.
For Simeone and his players they will go into this game as heavy favourites but at the same time in a one-off fixture such as this, it would certainly be unfair to diminish the chances of the club that are managed by Rudi Garcia.
Atletico Madrid booked their place in the final after a 1-0 win in the second leg of their Semi-final clash with Arsenal. Diego Costa was once again the name to cause misery for the Gunners as it was his strike that made all the difference as Arsene Wenger’s hopes of a European swansong had come to an end.
The side from the Spanish capital may well have suffered recent heartbreak in the Champions League final, but thankfully they have had better memories when it comes to this competition as the club will look to emulate their success of 2012.
Bucharest was the setting as Atletico Madrid got the better of Athletic Bilbao in an all-Spanish final, with Radamel Falcao undoubtedly the star of the show that evening as the Colombian forward scored twice and was named the man of the match.
Not only that but the South American hitman who would also go on to play for Manchester United and Chelsea was also the first man to go on and win the competition in two successive seasons with different teams.
There will be no additional glory for Falcao as he now plies his trade in Ligue 1, something that means he will be aware of the potential talents that Marseille have on offer. One of those will be French international Dimitri Payet.
The former West Ham midfielder left East London and returned to Marseille in January 2017 and you would have to argue that was probably a wise career move with the Hammers failing to kick on after Payet’s very impressive first season with the club.
For all his talents though he is something of an injury concern for Rudi Garcia with the Marseille manager sweating over his fitness and whether he will be able to be selected for such a showpiece event.
It is a game that could well be dominated by French international talents, if it is not to be Payet then it could just as be Antoine Griezmann. Questions remain if the diminutive Atletico forward will still be with the club next season especially with continued interest from Barcelona.
If he is to move on and swap Madrid for Catalonia then what better way to do so then by helping his current employers secure another piece of European silverware. (Source)
|09.12.08||Olympique Marseille 0 – 0 Atlético Madrid||( – )|
|01.10.08||Atlético Madrid 2 – 1 Olympique Marseille||( – )|
|Win Olympique Marseille||Draw||Win Atlético Madrid|
|0 %||50 %||50 %|