EUROPA LEAGUE 2017/18
Atletico Madrid v Marseille
Thursday May 17, 4:45am AEST
After disappointingly exiting the Champions League at the group stages, Atletico were installed as favourites for the Europa League and they’ve not disappointed, winning six and losing just one of their eight matches throughout the knockout stages. They’ll face Marseille who are a bit more of a surprise name to reach the final but made it here after an impressive set of results in their home legs and a last-minute goal in extra-time against Salzburg in the semi-finals.
Teams from La Liga have been the dominant on the continent for some time now. If we ignore all-Spanish finals, then dating back to the 2002 Champions League final Spanish teams have won 10 of the 12 European finals they’ve contested, with seven wins by at least two clear goals, whilst solely in this competition they’ve lifted the trophy in seven of the last 12 editions. Moreover, of the 14 Europa Cup finals since 2004 the higher ranked side have lifted the trophy on 12 occasions, holding a W9-D4-L1 record over 90-minutes including six victories in the last seven years.
None of these finals saw as big a difference between the two teams as we have here so we think Atletico should be even shorter. Marseille’s record against the three sides above them in Ligue 1 is W0-D2-L4 this term where they’ve conceded at least twice in every game and 18 in total. It means they can’t rely on their defence so if they are going to win they need their attack to be clinical, but the problem is that they are facing the best defence in Europe. Indeed, Atleti have conceded just four times in their eight knockout games and 18 of their 21 wins in 2018 across all competitions have come to nil.