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Olympique de Marseille vs Atletico Madrid
2018 Europa League Final, May 17
|Stade de Lyon, Lyon, France|
|Olympique de Marseille||Atletico Madrid|
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Atletico Madrid have won the 2018 Europa League with a dominant performance over Marseille.
Marseille seemed to be on their game early, but the signs they were going to get beaten were there, and an injury to key playmaker Dimitri Payet didn’t help. Their attack was impatient at best, with shots being fired, but they generally didn’t have enough men forward to put Jan Oblak under pressure. They were almost caught up in the moment, trying to register a goal without thinking about the path of how to get there.
At the other end, the situation was completely different. Atletico were strong in defence, and when the chance presented itself from a sloppy Marseille mistake, Antoine Griezmann was there to pounce against an out-of-position Steve Mandanda for the opening goal.
It would stay that way till halftime – Marseille dominating the contest, but behind on the scoreboard – with Atletico leading 1-0 at the break.
The second half brought with it a distinctive change in the match. Atletico came out controlling the game and scored again through Griezmann just four minutes in, making the task for Marseille almost impossible.
The French club had some more controlled attack in the second half and almost scored ten minutes from time to set up a cracking finish, but with a header from substitute Konstantinos Mitroglou firing off the upright, it just about sunk all hope.
Atletico captain Gabi would put the icing on the cake, scoring just two minutes from time on the back of a counter attack.
Olympique de Marseille 0
Atletico Madrid 3
Olympique de Marseille will look to continue their dream Europa League run as they take on Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in the final at Stade de Lyon. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 4:45am (AEST).
Despite not being able to match it with the top teams in the French domestic Ligue 1 this season, Marseille have had a fantastic run through Europe’s second-biggest club competition.
While the quality of opponents may not be right at the pointy end of European football, they fought through extra time to beat Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg in the semi-final, despite being on the road, in a dramatic second leg.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the first leg at home, they were put to the sword by Salzburg, who won 2-0 in the second leg, tying the fixture. Marseille then scored in extra time to take a spot in the final.
Marseille’s form domestically hasn’t been all that good though. They sit fourth on the table behind Paris, Lyon and Monaco, and while they have won two of their last three, the club have come away with poor results when tasked with facing the bigger teams.
Atletico had a tougher run to the final of the Europa League, although may be disadvantaged by having to play the final in France.
They took on English giants Arsenal in the semi-finals, hanging on for a 1-1 draw away from home in the first leg, before they returned home and took a 1-0 victory to cement their place.
The Spanish club have been sensational through the knockout phases though, beating Portugal’s Sporting CP 2-1, Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1 and Copenhagen 5-1.
The obvious trend to point to is their defence, which has been the best of all clubs in La Liga. They have let in just 20 goals for the season, five better than Barcelona. Their attack has been led by Antoine Griezmann, who has 19 goals for the season.
For that reason, it’s hard to see where Marseille find a way through the defence, but if they are, watch out for Florian Thauvin to lead the charge.
Of course, it’s not just the Europa League going on the line here. With changed qualification rules to the UEFA Champions League, the winners will gain an automatic qualification spot into the big league next year, which Marseille desperately need as they won’t qualify given where they currently sit domestically.
With Atletico proving their form in overcoming Arsenal and finishing at the top of La Liga, it’s hard to see them being beaten by Marseille here.
Atletico 2 – Marseille 0.
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