Europa League preview: Torres, Wenger aim to keep fairytale endings alive

Adam Davy/PA Wire/PA via AP
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For all the talk — some of it authored by yours truly — about the romance of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger saying goodbye to the club in a French-hosted UEFA Europa League Final against French opposition, UEL semifinal opponents Atletico Madrid have an alluring argument of their own.

Atleti hosts Arsenal after a 1-1 first leg, bringing an away goal home in its bid to reach the May 16 final in Lyon.

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Fernando Torres is going to leave Atleti this summer, perhaps for the Chicago Fire, but admits he wishes he could play there forever.

Torres, 34, even says his first move away from the club, to Liverpool, was for the benefit of Atleti.

“I always will want what’s best for the team and always put Atletico Madrid before me,” he said in an interview with beIN LaLiga. “Twice,I have given up what I want most, which is to play here. I understand that it is good for the club, and I would do it a third and a fourth time.”

Torres went 90 minutes in Atleti’s 1-0 win over Alaves at the weekend, with regular strikers Kevin Gameiro, who scored off the bench, and Antoine Griezmann kept out of the Starting XI. Diego Simeone also rested Saul Niguez, Jan Oblak, and Jose Gimenez.

Arsenal will be also fresh after using a much-changed side against Manchester United this weekend.

Manager Arsene Wenger was quizzed about his intentions for the future, including a possible job in Spain. He didn’t bite.

“I believe a man has to give his best as long as he is somewhere, with all his commitment and energy. I would like one day to know I worked with all my energy until the last day. I would like to look back and think I finished this love affair well.”

Wenger also complimented Griezmann, his fellow Frenchman, praising him for trying to succeed outside of his home country.

“He is a player I rate. He moved out of France at a young age, he made it away from home. He has an exceptional career and he looks like he loves the game, which I like in a player that is talented.”

The other side of the draw has Marseille in Austria holding a 2-0 lead on Red Bull Salzburg.

Both matches kickoff at 3:05 p.m. ET.