Europa League Final 2018
Marseille will be underdogs against La Liga giants Atletico Madrid when the two meet in the final of the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League in Lyon on Wednesday.
Atletico dispatched Arsenal en route to the final and have a balanced squad with brawn in defence and flair in attacking areas. Centre-back Diego Godin is one of the best defenders on the continent, while Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa ensure Los Rojiblancos boast enough cutting edge to score against any opposition.
Yet for all of Atleti’s obvious talent, Marseille are far from lacking in quality. The club has been revived on the watch of progressive manager Rudi Garcia, who has shaped a fluid forward line featuring the mercurial Dimitri Payet
Ample supply comes from gifted attacking midfielder Florian Thauvin, who has revived his career after a disappointing spell in England’s Premier League with Newcastle United.
Date: Wednesday, May 16
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST. 2:45 p.m. ET.
TV Info: BT Sport 2. Fox Sports 1. ESPN Deportes.
Live Stream: BT Sport App. Fox Soccer MatchPass. WatchESPN.
A third Europa league win in eight years beckons for Los Rojiblancos given their quality in every area. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak is a world-class stopper, while Godin leads an aggressive and intelligent back four.
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Further forward, the midfield combines the industry of Gabi with the vision and technique of Koke. Saul Niguez is almost a perfect fusion of both, a creative maestro with the tenacity and engine to still be at home in a team built to scrap for points.
Few scrap as viciously as Costa, whose fiery temperament often makes people forget about his immense quality. Yet the 29-year-old’s mix of power, skill and ruthless efficiency makes him a constant menace.
Costa proved his worth in the semi-final second leg against Arsenal when he netted the winner. Griezmann had already scored the all-important away goal in the first leg, and the France international’s pace and timing will surely torment Marseille.
This well-balanced team is led superbly by manager Diego Simeone, whose pragmatism has created an enviable trophy haul for Atletico, which was detailed on the tournament’s official Twitter account:Simeone will continue to serve a touchline ban imposed by UEFA after his protests toward the referee during the first leg against Arsenal. European football’s governing body recently turned down the Argentinian’s appeal to have the ban lifted for the final, per Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports.
Even so, expect Simeone to add to his silverware collection after Griezmann and Costa both make the difference in a tight final.
Marseille Will Score
Atletico are in the final largely thanks to a miserly defence breached just four times in eight Europa League matches. Simeone’s back line has also surrendered a mere 20 goals in 37 matches in La Liga.
Those are daunting numbers, but Marseille have the firepower to make any defence look foolish. Garcia knows how to cram attacking talent into the final third, often trusting a 4-3-3 formation able to become a 4-2-4.
This Marseille team is no different, with Payet and Thauvin acting as suppliers for winger Lucas Ocampos and a host of striking options. Payet is still deadly from set pieces, while Thauvin has added an impressive scoring knack to his game during what’s been a historic season for the 25-year-old, per OptaJean