European football's second-biggest sporting event, the Europa League final takes place this Wednesday 16 May, as Olympique de Marseille (Marseille) face Club Athletico de Madrid (Athletico Madrid) in the Parc Olympique de Lyonnais, in Lyon, France. At the time of writing, Athletico Madrid are favourites at 1.70. The draw is 3.70 and Marseille are outsiders 5.60 (all odds are subject to change).
Athletico Madrid are led by the mercurial Diego Costa, a player who is as enigmatic as he is ruthless in front of goal. Former Chelsea player Costa scored against Arsenal in the semi-final second-leg of this competition. Behind him is Antoine Griezmann who may well be playing in his last game for the club. Griezmann has been continuously linked with Manchester United however it appears as if he will ply his trade with Catalonian giants FC Barcelona next season. Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblek is another who has been linked with a move away from the Wanda Metropolitano.
Underdogs Marseille are a plucky outfit who survived a scare in their semi-final tie against Red Bull Salzburg. It was only a goal from a controversial corner-kick decision that ended the Salzburg's resistance and prevented a penalty shoot-out. Dimitri Payet is Marseille’s talisman in midfield. He has popped up with the odd goal too, scoring 10 in total this season - 3 of them coming in the UEFA Europa League. Payet also leads the tournament in assists this season.
Athletico Madrid have not won a European trophy since 2012 when they won the UEFA cup. Since then and now they have also featured in two losing Champions League finals, losing both times to fierce cross-city rivals Real Madrid. Marseille last featured in the UEFA cup final in 2003/2004 when they were runners up to Valencia. Marseille won the first European Cup branded as the ‘Champions League’ in the 1992/1993 season.
Victory for the Spanish side would see them equal their compatriots, Sevilla as being the most successful club in the competition’s history. So far this season, Athletico Madrid have competed admirably in La Liga, being second in the table ahead of Real Madrid by 3 points. Barring a loss in their final game of the season and Real Madrid winning in their final game, they should finish in 2nd place. Marseille sit in fourth place in France’s Ligue 1 and could overtake Lyon into 3rd if they win their final game and Lyon fail to win their own game.
This will be a tight game. Athletico Madrid’s charismatic coach Diego Simeone will be in the stands after he was sent off in the tie against Arsenal. Marseille have been scoring more goals than Athletico thus far, however Athletico do not ship many goals and will be seeking to keep another clean sheet in Lyon. It is attack against defence. Pragmatic Athletico Madrid against plucky Olympique de Marseille. Will it be under or over 2.5 goals? Will both teams score? Bet now with Sportsbet.io.
Words: Mark Williams