Atletico Madrid have won the UEFA Europa League twice in the last nine years – the most recent being 2012, with Diego Simeone while Marseille’s last European triumph was way back in 1993. Atletico have a more experienced squad with an average age of 28 while Marseille under Rudi Garcia have an average age of 26.
Will experience count for something or will the French people come all out to support Marseille at the Groupama Stadium at Décines-Charpieu in Lyon on Wednesday?
The headline of France Football on Tuesday read, ‘Une faim de Lion’, which means hungry like a Lion. Florian Thauvin told L’Equipe on the same day: “We can’t play such an exceptional season and end up with nothing to show for it at the end. It would hurt all of us. We have incredible strength of character.”
Marseille will need all that motivation, character, and more against a Diego Simeone-tutored side, which knows how to win ‘ugly’. Though Simeone will not be on the touchline as he serves a four-match ban from UEFA, his character foisted on his players so much that the Marseille players must be ready to fight fire with fire.
And though he will be absent from the unfolding action on Wednesday, Simeone was confident in an interview. “Everyone thought we could be in the final and we’ve got there. Now, though, actions count, not words. The opposition is in good shape; the coach is doing a good job. It’ll be a hard-fought final,” Simeone predicted.
In the two matches they have ever played, Atletico won 2-1 on aggregate, even though Marseille manager said it was better to play Atletico in a one-legged final. “Maybe the best thing for us is that we’re taking them on in a single match. Anything is possible in football in a one-off game.”
|Head to head|
|September 12, 2008||UCL||Olympique Marseille||0 – 0||Atlético Madrid|
|January 10, 2008||UCL||Atlético Madrid||2 – 1||Olympique Marseille|
On the road to Lyon, Marseille created a scoring chance after every eight minutes while Atletico created after every 10 minutes, though the French side have not played a more defensively-minded side as the Spanish team.
Marseille started the journey last August at home to Belgian side, KV Oostende and traversed six countries, scoring 28 goals in the 18 matches en-route their place in the Lyon final.
After surprisingly losing out in the Champions League group stage, Atletico took the Europa League in their stride, scoring 17 goals in eight matches and conceding just four, not more than one in any match, as they seek to win a third Europa League title in nine years.
For Marseille, they can become history makers, again. “25 years ago Marseille became the first French club to win the Champions League and we have another chance to be first forever by becoming the first French club to win the Europa League. It will be very difficult though,” said Rudi Garcia, Marseille manager to uefa.com.
In a game that could be decided by a single goal, Marseille’s captain and talisman, Dmitri Payet said at the pre-match press conference, “We might not be able to play beautiful football throughout but the main thing is to score one more goal than them.”
Atletico’s Road to Lyon
15/02/18 UEL København 1 – 4 Atletico Madrid
22/02/18 UEL Atletico Madrid 1 – 0 København
08/03/18 UEL Atletico Madrid 3 – 0 Lokomotiv Moscow
15/03/18 UEL Lokomotiv Moscow 1 – 5 Atletico Madrid
05/04/18 UEL Atletico Madrid 2 – 0 Sporting CP
12/04/18 UEL Sporting CP 1 – 0 Atletico Madrid
26/04/18 UEL Arsenal 1 – 1 Atletico Madrid
03/05/18 UEL Atletico Madrid 1 – 0 Arsenal
Marseille’s Road to Lyon
27/07/17 UEL Olympique Marseille 4 – 2 KV Oostende
03/08/17 UEL KV Oostende 0 – 0 Olympique Marseille
17/08/17 UEL Domzale 1 – 1 Olympique Marseille
24/08/17 UEL Olympique Marseille 3 – 0 Domzale
14/09/17 UEL Olympique Marseille 1 – 0 Konyaspor
28/09/17 UEL Salzburg 1 – 0 Olympique Marseille
19/10/17 UEL Olympique Marseille 2 – 1 Vitoria Guimaraes
02/11/17 UEL Vitoria Guimaraes 1 – 0 Olympique Marseille
23/11/17 UEL Konyaspor 1 – 1 Olympique Marseille
07/12/17 UEL Olympique Marseille 0 – 0 Salzburg
15/02/18 UEL Olympique Marseille 3 – 0 Sporting Braga
22/02/18 UEL Sporting Braga 1 – 0 Olympique Marseille
08/03/18 UEL Olympique Marseille 3 – 1 Athletic Club
15/03/18 UEL Athletic Club 1 – 2 Olympique Marseille
05/04/18 UEL RB Leipzig 1 – 0 Olympique Marseille
12/04/18 UEL Olympique Marseille 5 – 2 RB Leipzig
26/04/18 UEL Olympique Marseille 2 – 0 Salzburg
03/05/18 UEL Salzburg E2 – 1 Olympique Marseille
|Total Forward Passes||2057||3519|
Words before the War
“They are solid and have the best defensive record in Spain but they are dangerous in attack too. If we have similarities to them then it’s because we’re both full of character. We are full of respect for Atlético, a great Spanish club with a lot of experience.” – Rudi Garcia, Marseille Manager
“The Europa League is the Europa League and the Champions League is the Champions League and winning a trophy is winning a trophy. When we won this in 2012 was an important step forward for us, it gave us confidence and we grew from it, which was important.” – Diego Simeone, Atlético Manager
Probable Starting XIs
Atletico Madrid: Jan Oblak; Juanfran, Stefan Savic, Diego Godin, Filipe Luis; Koke, Saul Niguez, Gabi, Angel Correa; Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa
Olympique Marseille: Steve Mandanda; Bouna Sarr, Adil Rami, Luis Gustavo, Jordan Amavi; Zambo Anguissa, Morgan Sanson; Florian Thauvin, Dmitri Payet, Lucas Ocampos; Valere Germain