In just a few short weeks, we will be crowning the Europa League winner. After last week’s results in the Europa League semifinals, all four teams are still in the running and have a path to glory.
Atletico Madrid is feeling pretty good about its chances after a 1-1 draw with Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League bout. It’s not what Atletico was hoping for coming into the match, but they are certainly happy about the result after playing down a man for over 80 minutes.
In the other semifinal, Marseille defeated RB Salzburg 2-0 at home in the first leg of their bout. However, Salzburg is far from out of it and will look to continue their dream run through the cup on Thursday.
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Atletico Madrid vs. Arsenal
Date and Time: May 3, 2018, 3:05 p.m. ET
Location: Wanda Metropolitano
US Television Coverage: FS1
Betting Line: Atletico Madrid -0.5 and -1, O/U 2.5
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Defense has been the key to Atletico’s success all year and they came up big in the Emirates last week. After right back Sime Vrsaljko was sent off following a questionable second yellow card, the club needed to tighten things up at the back in order to still be in contention when they returned home for the second leg. The club was able to do just that with incredible effectiveness.
Arsenal possessed the ball for over three-quarters of the match and launched 28 shots on goal, but the Gunners were only able to score once. The defense came up big time and time again, while Jan Oblak made some fantastic saves. Only losing 1-0 given the situation would have been respectable, but Atletico was able to make things even better in the closing minutes.
Antoine Griezmann hadn’t had many opportunities to score in the match, but he made the most of the one half-chance he had late. With a little bit of luck, Griezmann was able to make it 1-1 in the 81st minute and send the road fans into wild celebration. That goal made things much easier for Atletico in this match.
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Atletico has other advantages coming into this match too. The club will have Diego Costa healthy and available for this leg and that will free up Griezmann to do even more. Meanwhile, Arsenal might be without some of their key players for this match. Goalkeeper David Ospina’s availability is a concern after suffering a rib injury against Manchester United, while midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and forward Alex Iwobi are considered doubtful.
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Olympique Marseille
Date and Time: May 3, 2018, 3:05 p.m. ET
Location: Red Bull Salzburg Arena
US Television Coverage: FS2
Betting Line: RB Salzburg PK and -0.5, O/U 2.5 and 3
The French side may have been able to pick up a 2-0 win in Marseille last Thursday, but Salzburg easily could have snagged a draw or even more won the game.
Salzburg had some really great opportunities that they were just unable to convert on the first time around. They had more possession than their opponents and had the better chances, yet the Austrian club still finds itself in a precarious spot.
However, the hosts have proven that they can put goals on the board. They are a very good passing team and they will have another advantage. Marseille will not have Boubacar Kamara, Steve Mandanda, or Hiroki Sakai in this leg. Those absences will provide Salzburg opportunities.
Europa League Semifinals Free Picks
Atletico should be able to get past Arsenal at home in their tie. The hosts will look much better at even strength and get the result they need to make the final. In the other match, I see Salzburg and Marseille playing a fast-paced game with multiple goals. The over is a good play there.
Europa League Semifinals Picks: Back Atletico Madrid to beat Arsenal and take the over in the Salzburg-Marseille match.