China Daily

News> Sports> Content
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 17:52
Solid defense makes Atletico favorites for Europa League win
By Xinhua
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 17:52 By Xinhua

Atletico Madrid's Argentinian coach Diego Simeone (third right) look at his players during a training session at the Parc OL stadium in Decines-Charpieu on May 15, 2018, on the eve of their UEFA Europa League Final football match against Marseille. (PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

MADRID - Atletico Madrid are the favorites to defeat Olympique Marseille on Wednesday to win their third Europa League title in 10 years.

The side coached by Diego Simeone won the competition in 2009 and 2012 and traveled to Lyon after knocking Arsenal out of the semifinals a fortnight ago.

Simeone has built his side on the ethos of hard work, organization and a solid defense coupled with pace on the counter-attack.

They are likely to play a waiting game against a rival with attacking flair.

There were a few surprises in the Atletico squad at the weekend when Simeone fielded a powerful side away to Getafe on Saturday afternoon in a game Atletico had asked to be played 24 hours earlier in order to give them more time to prepare for Wednesday's duel.

ALSO READ: After 25 years, Marseille looking to win in Europe again

That team included key players such as French international striker Antoine Griezmann and his partner, Diego Costa, along with Saul Niguez, Diego Godin, Koke and Stefan Savic, who are all likely to start in Lyon.

Atletico Madrid's French forward Antoine Griezmann (bottom right) drives the ball during a training session at the Parc OL stadium in Decines-Charpieu, May 15, 2018. (JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP)

The only players likely to feature who didn't play at the weekend are Lucas Hernandez, who will play at left back, and right-back Sime Vrsaljko.

Vrsaljko is available again after missing the return leg of the semifinal through suspension after being shown a red card just nine minutes into the first leg.

The fact that Atletico were able to claim a 1-1 draw in that game away to Arsenal is the perfect example of their resilience under Simeone, with Griezmann popping up to score a goal from virtually nothing in the closing minutes of the match.

The Frenchman will no doubt be the center of attention on Wednesday: not only is he playing in his homeland, but there is increasing speculation over his future with FC Barcelona, which is thought to be willing to pay Atletico more than his 100 million euro buyout clause over the summer. 

READ MORE: Antoine Griezmann is Spanish league's most wanted man

Although Griezmann's future is still unsure, it will certainly be Fernando Torres' last final for Atletico with the striker likely to start the game on the bench.

Atletico's last two European finals both ended in painful defeat to neighbors Real Madrid in the Champions League, but this time it will be a surprise if they return home empty-handed.

Atletico Madrid's Spanish forward Diego Costa (right) drives the ball during a training session at the Parc OL stadium in Decines-Charpieu, May 15, 2018. (PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

Atletico Madrid's players take part in a training session at the Parc OL stadium in Decines-Charpieu on May 15, 2018. (JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP)

Share this story

Also Read

CHINA DAILY
VIDEO SHOWS
APP Download
CHINA DAILY
HONG KONG NEWS
APP Download