Marseille will be very close to home for the UEFA Europa League Final as they meet Atletico in Lyon, France with the Spanish side heavy favorites to win their third crown in the last decade in this competition.
Stade des Lumieres, Lyon, France
Key Stat: No French side has ever managed to hoist the UEFA Cup- now the UEFA Europa League.
Expert Verdict: This is not the first final in which Atletico have been a part of recently. They have gotten to a couple of Champions League finals, falling short a couple of times at the very end, and have also won this very competition some years before. So to say that they have the experience edge is an understatement. They also have a bit of a quality edge as well over Marseille, making them big favorites to win this final. Marseille will fight valiantly, but the Spanish side is much too strong for the French- even so close to home.
Rudi Garcia has seen goalkeeper Steve Mandanda return to the team in recent weeks, and he should be the man between the sticks for them for this final. However, they still have some issues in terms of injuries. Center backs Rolando and striker Konstaninos Mitroglu are doubts to feature due to injury, but they look to have the vast majority of their first options available.
Marseille will have been bitterly disappointed over their draw on Friday night with Guingamp that has given the advantage to Lyon in the fight for the top three, but they did get a ton of help from Florian Thauvin to give them a chance. He scored twice, including once to equalize when they were a man down to give them something from the game. He's got four goals and four assists in the tournament so far. Another man to keep watch on is Dimitri Payet. He has seven assists and has scored some big goals along the way to help get them here, and the French international is one to watch as a result.
Marseille have two draws, two wins, and a loss in their last five matches:
3-3 draw at Guingamp
2-1 home win vs Nice
2-1 loss in extra time vs RB Salzburg (UEL)
1-1 draw at Angers
2-0 home win vs RB Salzburg (UEL)
Qualification Round: 4-2W, 0-0 vs KV Oostende
Playoff Round: 1-1, 3-0W vs Domzale
Group Stage: 1-0W, 1-1 vs Konyaspor
1-0L, 0-0 vs RB Salzburg
2-1W, 1-0L vs Vitoria Guimaraes
Round of 32: 3-0W, 1-0L vs Braga
Round of 16: 3-1W, 1-2W vs Athletic Bilbao
Quarterfinal: 1-0L, 5-2W vs RB Leipzig
Semi-final: 2-0W, 2-1L vs RB Salzburg
Defenders:Sakai, Rami, Kamara/Gustavo, Amavi
Defensive Midfielders:Lopez, Anguissa
Attacking Midfielders:Thauvin, Payet, Ocampos
Diego Simeone has some great news ahead of this final, with only one player looking set to miss out in the form of Vitolo, who has never quite hit the ground running for them this season. He was able to rest both Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa for the final thirty minutes on Saturday, so look for those two to be refreshed and ready to go come Wednesday night.
The aforementioned pair of Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann are two easy choices to watch for in this match. Costa was instrumental in the second leg win over Arsenal, while Griezmann scored the dagger goal in the first leg that signaled that the Gunners were up against it. While these two are clearly important, it's the defence and organizational ability that sets Atletico apart. Diego Godin has been the rock at the back for some time, and with him back there, it is going to be difficult to do much of anything, even when his side are not playing well. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak comes off a penalty save on Saturday, so he's in good personal form as well.
Atletico have three wins, a loss, and a draw in their last five matches:
0-1 win at Getafe
0-2 home loss vs Espanyol
1-0 home win vs Arsenal (UEL)
0-1 win at Alaves
1-1 draw at Arsenal (UEL)
Round of 32: 1-4W, 1-0W vs Copenhagen
Round of 16: 3-0W, 1-5W vs Lokomotiv Moscow
Quarterfinal: 2-0W, 1-0L vs Sporting Lisbon
Semi-final: 1-1, 1-0W vs Arsenal
Defenders:Vrsaljko, Gimenez, Godin, Lucas
Midfielders:Koke, Saul Niguez, Gabi, Correa
Marseille and Atletico Madrid have only played each twice before, and both matches came nearly ten years ago in the Champions League group stages. In October of 2008, Atletico won 2-1 at home and two months later, they got a 0-0 draw in France.
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Marseille are at 5/1 to win, a draw is at 13/5, and an Atletico Madrid win is at 8/13.
With one game remaining in France's Ligue 1, which will come on Sunday, Marseille find themselves one point behind Lyon for the third and final place in the Champions League for next season. Lyon have a potentially tricky match with last season's third place finishers Nice while Marseille have to face Amiens. Both will be at home, and you have to give the edge to Lyon there despite playing a good team. So that means Marseille have a lot of pressure on them here to win this trophy and qualify for the UCL. It can certainly be argued that they need to win this match more than Atletico.
Atletico Madrid don't need to win this match in order to qualify for the Champions League next season, but they sure would love to do so and show that they can win a final on Europe's big stages. Atleti are in second place in Spain currently, holding it by three points over rivals Real Madrid. Just a point is all that will be needed for them to clinch second, but they are well ahead of fifth place and have been for some time, so they will definitely be back on the big stage next term. So this match is more about pride than it is one of necessity.
These two teams have a lot of disparity to them. While Marseille does have a lot of quality to it, they do have a lot of younger players that have not experienced this big of a match before. They do have Payet, of course, and some others to help lead them on, but it's night and day a difference from Atletico. So many of these Atleti players have been around in Champions League finals, and despite ultimately losing out a couple of times, they were very much in those matches and will know what it takes to win and compete.
Since there is only a very brief history, it is worth looking at each side's records against teams from the other country.
Atletico's record vs French sides: 7W, 6D, 1L
Marseille's record vs Spanish sides: 4W, 3D, 8L
Given the strong record of Atletico in defence, you have to like their chances to keep a clean sheet. A no for both teams to score, via Ladbrokes, is at 4/6.
It may 'just' be the Europa League Final, but you have got to believe that Diego Simeone and the rest of the team that has been around the last few years are sick of losing in finals. They know this is a great chance to lay down a marker for next season, and their talent edge and ability to defend over Marseille should help them overcome being on French soil.