Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 8/11
Atletico Madrid showed a great deal of character in the first leg to earn a 1-1 draw despite having Sime Vrsaljko sent off early on and they are now the favourites to go through. Nevertheless, eager to lift the Europa League title and secure Champions League football, Arsenal will give their best to show some improvement in the return leg and make it to the final.
Atletico Madrid have been regular in the Champions League closing stages in recent years, but los Colchoneros surprisingly failed to reach the first knockout phase this time out, albeit moving on to the Europa League. Diego Simeone’s men did well to defeat FC Kobenhavn, Lokomotiv Moscow and Sporting CP to reach the UEL semi-finals, before facing a stern test in the semi-final against Arsenal Football Club.
Los Colchoneros were unfortunate to have Sime Vrsaljko sent off within ten minutes of kick-off, but they fought bravely throughout the game and eventually earned a 1-1 draw that gives them confidence going into the return leg. Having since defeated Deportivo Alaves on the road to edge closer to a second-place finish in La Liga, Atletico Madrid will be high on spirits going into the high-profile clash against Arsenal, and we believe they’ve got a very good chance of qualifying for the final.
Juanfran and Sime Vrsaljko miss out through injury and suspension respectively, whereas Filipe Luis is unlikely to feature either.
The good news is that key men Jan Oblak and Diego Costa have fully recovered and they will be in the starting line-up.
An era is coming to an end at Arsenal Football Club as long-serving manager Arsene Wenger has announced he will step down in the summer, but while the Frenchman’s last season in charge has been quite disappointing, he will at least attempt to secure another Champions League qualification before he leaves. It is now clear that a top 4 finish in the Premier League is no longer an option and the only way to do that would be by winning the Europa League trophy.
The Gunners will first have to eliminate Atletico Madrid in the semis and the general impression is they have missed a glorious opportunity to grab the tie by the scruff of neck. Even with los Colchoneros playing with ten men for more than 80 minutes, Arsenal were unable to turn their dominance into goals and eventually had to settle for a 1-1 draw that puts them in the back seat for the return match. Having also lost to arch rivals Man Utd at the weekend, the Gunners arrive in Madrid low on spirits.
Alex Iwobi has recovered from a hamstring problem, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan and David Ospina both face fitness tests and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied.
Key Factors to Consider
- Atletico won 15 of last 16 home games in Europa League
- Los Colchoneros lifted the coveted title in 2010 and 2012
- Atletico emerged victorious from both UEL semi-final appearances
- Arsenal won six of last eight away matches in Europa League
- Both teams scored in their last seven games in all competitions
Atletico Madrid have largely impressed in knockout stage ties in recent years and having held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw with ten men in the first leg, we are backing them to win the return match. The Gunners, have been struggling for form of late, and with several important players either missing or lacking match fitness, we don’t think they can reach the Europa League final.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 8/11
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