This year’s Europa League final pits Atletico Madrid, in their fourth European final in the past six years, against Marseille who are playing in their fourth major European final and their first since the 1998-1999 UEFA Cup (where they lost 0-3 to Parma).
Both these sides don’t enjoy a great record in European finals in their history. Marseille have contested three prior finals, two in the European Cup/Champions League and one UEFA Cup Final, losing two and winning just one.
Atletico Madrid will be playing in their eighth European final, they have contested three in the European Cup/Champions League, losing all three to Bayern Munich and city rivals Real Madrid (twice). They have however enjoyed more success in the Fairs Cup/UEFA Cup/Europa League winning both of the previous finals they reached in this competition in 2009/10 and 2011/12 and they have also won one and lost two of the old Cup Winners Cup Finals, winning against Fiorentina in 1961/62 before losing to Tottenham a year later and also to Dinamo Kiev in 1986.
Below are my tips and predictions for the 2018 Europa League final.
Football Betting Tips: Sunday 13th May
- These teams have only met twice before in Europe. The results were a 2-1 win for Atletico in Spain and a 0-0 draw in the return fixture in France.
- The final takes place in Lyon which is just 195 miles away from Marseille giving Marseille a slight domestic advantage and likely more crowd support.
- Atletico Madrid come into this game with three wins in their last five games and just one defeat in that run (a surprise 0-2 home reverse to Espanyol).
- Marseille have won two of their last five, drawing two and losing just one, the second leg of their semifinal with Red Bull Salzburg. Their last match was a 3-3 draw at Guingamp.
Atletico Madrid Preview
Domestic League Position: Currently 2nd in La Liga (78 points from 37 games)
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Oblak, Partey, Giminez, Godin, Hernandes, Gabi, Saul, Koke, Griezmann, Costa, Correa
Key Player: Antoine Griezmann
The Frenchman is the main goalscoring threat and also a major creative influence on the team going forward. Capable of the spectacular as well as the opportunistic, he is a striker that may appear to be doing little in the game, but will then pop up with a crucial goal at a crucial time. Diego Costa will be the battering ram and Griezmann along with Saul from midfield and Correa wide left will be expected to add the silk to the steel to take Atletico to the title.
Domestic League Position: Currently 4th in Ligue 1 (74 points from 37 games)
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Pele, Kamara, Rolando, Rami, Amavi, Gustavo, Thauvin, Ocampos, Payet, Mitroglu, Germain
Key Player: Dmitri Payet
The mercurial skills of the Frenchman have been central to Marseille’s progress in this competition. Immaculate control and craft mean he is a real threat to any defence both in terms of creating chances, scoring them and also from set pieces around the penalty box. Atletico will be well aware of his quality and his influence on Marseille and if they can stop him influencing the game, Marseille’s chances of winning fall considerably.
This should be a hugely intriguing game. Atletico Madrid are built on a rock solid defence but once again will have talismanic manager Diego Simeone in the stands following the imposition of an four match UEFA ban which means he will miss being on the bench for the final, as well as the first two Champions League Group games for Atletico next season.
Marseille coach Rudi Garcia will be in his usual spot and he will be hoping the mercurial skills of Dmitri Payet combined with the goal threat of Florent Thauvin will be enough to unlock the Atletico back line which has been imperious at times, particularly in their first leg semifinal with Arsenal.
While Marseille’s attack V Atletico’s defence is going to be a major talking point, the game may well be decided how Marseille’s back line, which hasn’t been great away from the Velodrome in Europe can cope with an Atletico attack that will boast the likes of Diego Costa and Antoine Griezman and in truth, it is this battle which I think will likely be the crucial one in deciding which team is the winner.
Marseille have a punchers chance but for me, Atletico have been the best team in this competition since Christmas and I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t continue their progress with a win in the final to claim what would be their third Europa League title in the past nine years.