With four European finals under their belt in the last decade, Atletico Madrid will feel confident going ahead into the match against Ligue 1’s Olympique Marseille. But is the French side saving up something special?
Football fans seem to have been gifted the final they deserve. One between two very strong teams, that could easily have gone far in the Champions League. One of them is a highly experienced Spanish side. The other is a French team possessing some brilliantly talented players, on the radar of Europe’s top teams.
Atletico, the strong favorites
It’s difficult to overlook Atleti’s impressive results, their powerful squad and their status as the first Spanish team in many years to challenge Real and Barcelona’s dominance in La Liga.
There is also the matter of the two Champions League finals that they lost to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Winning the Europa League trophy would stand as a proud monument to the talent of this generation of players.
And this is likely to also be the last chance for fan favorites Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres to capture a trophy with the Spaniards. While the latter is expected to not have his contract renewed, Griezmann looks close to leaving Atletico on a big transfer deal.
“I see him very good, physically very good, focused in this game, because it is very important for him to win a title.With his level, he just wants to win titles. I wish it won’t be his last final with Atletico. Because we need him, and he knows that we all want him to stay,” teammate Gabi said about the French player.
Fellow Frenchman Dimitri Payet will be on the opposing end of country-mate Griezmann in Wednesday’s final. Both men are seen as their teams’ special weapons. Payet agrees that Griezmann thoroughly deserves his elevated status in the final.
“Grizou is their mister plus. He scores goals and creates them. He’s capable of making the difference at any given moment and we’ll have to keep an eye on him the way you would on your milk if you were boiling it,” Payet told reporters present at the pre-match conference.
OM, a team capable of an upset
Marseille may not have been as successful in European competitions as their adversaries for tonight. However, they remain one of the most beloved teams in France and boast an illustrious history.
Payet is aware that their presence in the final is something of a surprise, but he is confident that their work put into studying Atleti, will pay off.
“They have the experience but we’ve studied our opponents and we’ll know how to take them on. We might not be able to play beautiful football throughout but the main thing is to score one more goal than them,” the midfielder tells journalists.
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