Since dropping down into the Europa League from the Champions League, Atletico Madrid has been the oddsmakers’ favorite to win it all. Atletico have played the part during their run through the knockout stages, crushing Copenhagen and Lokomotiv Moscow in the first two rounds before smothering Sporting CP and Arsenal with their defense. They have allowed just four goals in their eight Europa League matches.
Olympique Marseille know the challenge that awaits them. Marseille had to battle back from a first leg deficit against Red Bull Leipzig in the quarterfinals and needed a goal in the extra frame to beat Red Bull Salzburg in the semifinals to make it here. They are greater than a 5-1 underdog to win this game in regulation per the Europa League betting odds.
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Atletico Madrid vs. Olympique Marseille
Date and Time: May 16, 2018, 2:45 p.m. ET
Location: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
Television Coverage: FS1
Betting Line: Atletico Madrid -0.5 and -1, O/U 2 and 2.5
No French team has been able to win a Europa League title. Four French teams have gotten to this point and all four have failed, with Marseille finishing runner-up in 1999 and 2004.
Meanwhile, Spanish clubs have dominated all European tournaments. Barcelona and Real Madrid have combined to win the last four Champions League crowns, and Real is favored to make it five in a row in a few weeks.
In the Europa League, Spanish teams have won five of the last eight titles. Atletico won it all in 2010 and 2012, while Sevilla won three straight from 2014-2016.
There are a number of injury concerns for Marseille, but let’s start with the good news. Midfielder Boubacar Kamara and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda have each returned to the club and are expected to play in this one. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about some of their teammates.
Right back Hiroki Sakai has already been declared out. He is the team’s best defender and not having him in the lineup is not optimal in the slightest. Marseille are a little more optimistic about the prospects of two others though. Center forward Konstantinos Mitroglou and center back Rolando are both questionable to play as of Friday. They will be re-evaluated closer to gameday and may be able to suit up.
The only player listed on Atletico’s injury report is right back Juanfran. Juanfran has missed the club’s last five games, yet he is expected to be able to return for the final. He has returned to practice with the club, and the early word is that he looks fit.
What to watch for
Marseille is going to have to find a way to score. Atletico have arguably the best defense of any club in the world, and that has been the key for them all season. With Juanfran back, they would be fully healthy. That means Marseille have to capitalize on the few opportunities they will have. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak does not get caught out of position though and is capable of making spectacular saves. There’s a reason Atletico is giving up well under one goal a game on average.
Europa League Finals Free Picks
Whereas Atletico have already assured themselves of a spot in the Champions League, Marseille need to win this match in order to punch their ticket. They are currently in fourth place in Ligue 1, and only the top three teams will qualify for next year’s event.
Unfortunately for Marseille, they will not be able to get past Atletico. Atletico will tally the goals they need for the victory and will make sure this one goes under the total, at least partially, as well.
Europa League Finals Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2, Marseille 0
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