Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 4/6
After losing the Europa League (UEFA Cup) finals in 1999 and 2004, Marseille will be hoping it will be third time lucky as they battle Atletico Madrid for the coveted trophy and a chance to secure Champions League qualification. Los Colchoneros already have 2010 and 2012 EL titles to their name and they have been made odds on favourites to make it three this Wednesday at Parc OL in Lyon.
Olympique Marseille were regarded as one of Europe’s top sides not so long ago, and they managed to lift the UEFA Champions League title in 1993, two years after losing the European Champions Cup final to Serbian side Crvena Zvezda. However, l’OM have since struggled to return to old glory days and the 2009/2010 Ligue 1 trophy as well as three Coupe de la Ligue titles are their only notable achievements in the past two decades.
It has to be noted though that the club have started a new ambitious project and already managed to attract some high-profile footballers, with Dimitri Payet, Luiz Gustavo and Florian Thauvin playing key roles this season. Marseille impressed to reach the Europa League final, defeating Sporting Braga, Athletic Club, RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg in the knockout stages, but they will have bigger fish to fry in the final. Considering that l’OM are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League trough league finish, the French side will have an extra motive to give their best in Lyon, and there are no doubts they will have an excellent support from the stands.
Star player Dimitri Payet should start after recovering from a thigh problem, but Rolando, Bouna Sarr and Kostas Mitroglou are all rated doubtful.
Atletico Madrid have become a real force to be reckoned with in both Spain and Europe in recent years, and while los Colchoneros have so far lost three Champions League finals (1974, 2014, 2016), they have won both Europa League finals (2010, 2012). Having done well to all but secure a second-place finish in Spanish La Liga, Atletico Madrid are now turning their attention to the Marseille game, where they will have a good opportunity to add another major title to their trophy cabinet.
Diego Simeone’s men may have failed to progress from the Champions League group stages, but they have since defeated FC Kobenhavn (5-1 agg), Lokomotiv Moscow (8-1 agg), Sporting CP (2-1 agg) and Arsenal (2-1 agg) to reach the UEFA Europa League final, and many consider them to be the favourites to defeat Marseille, even though the game is played in France. Atletico Madrid have been in fine form of late, winning three of their last four matches in all competitions and their experience in the closing stages of European competitions should also come in handy.
Lucas Hernandez should start at left-back even though Filipe Luis has recovered from injury, while Gabi and Thomas Partey are vying for one place in the middle of the park.
Key Factors to Consider
- Atletico Madrid won both Europa League finals so far
- Marseille lost two Europa League finals
- Atletico defeated Marseille 2-1 on aggregate in the 2008 UCL clash
- Marseille lost 8 of 15 matches against Spanish clubs in European competitions (W4 D3)
- Under 2.5 goals were scored in Atletico’s last six fixtures
Even though Marseille have shown a great deal of potential this season, it is Atletico Madrid who have been much more successful in these kinds of games of late and we are backing los Colchoneros to lift their third Europa League trophy. WOM players will not be able to match the sheer intensity of the Spanish side, nor will they manage to contain the likes of Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 4/6
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