A Frenchman ended the silverware dreams of a French power.
Antoine Griezmann’s brace, both assisted by Koke, led Atletico Madrid past Marseille 3-0, claiming the UEFA Europa League title on Wednesday in Lyon.
It’s the third Europa League crown for Atleti, and for Diego Simeone (two as Atleti manager, and one as Inter Milan player).
Gabi also scored for Atleti.
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Valere Germain was played through on goal very early, but missed his chance to give Marseille the lead.
The miss stung soon after, when Steve Mandanda made a poor clearance. Koke hit it to Griezmann first time, and the Atleti striker scored in his home country.
Marseille lost Dimitri Payet to an injury soon after the half-hour mark.
And Griezmann made it 2-0 before the second half was four minutes old, taking another Koke through ball and flicking over a diving Mandanda.
Kostas Mitroglou subbed into the game for Marseille and headed off the frame in the Ligue 1 side’s best chance to get back into the hunt.
The UEFA Europa League final takes place in Lyon, France on Wednesday (kick off, 2:45 p.m. ET) with Marseille and Atletico Madrid clashing for the second-biggest trophy in European club soccer.
[ LIVE: Europa League final ]
Atletico are the overwhelming favorites but Marseille have rode a wave of positivity towards the final as they aim to become the first French club to win a major European club trophy since they won the European Cup back in 1993. Although Paris Saint-Germain did win the now defunct UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1995-95, it must be noted…
Marseille lost in the Europa League final (then known as the UEFA Cup) in 1999 and 2004 but the Ligue 1 side are hoping mercurial playmaker Dimitri Payet can deliver the goods, along with top scorer Florian Thauvin, a few hundred miles from home in what would be a big shock.
Victory would secure Marseille a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage next season with the French giants currently out of the UCL qualification spots in the French top-flight with one game to go.
Diego Simeone will not be able to coach his Atletico Madrid team from the sidelines in the final after his antics in the first leg of their semifinal victory against Arsenal and although Atleti have already secured their spot in the Champions League next season via a top four finish in La Liga, this is a competition they love after winning it in 2010 and 2012.
Antoine Griezmann is the danger man for Atleti (who lost to Real Madrid in both the 2014 and 2016 UCL finals) with the French international striker looking to end the season on a high back in his homeland, while Diego Costa will be sniffing around for goals, and trouble, as per usual…
Click on the link above to follow all the action from the Groupama Stadium live, while we will have analysis and reaction from the final right here on Pro Soccer Talk.
Atletico Madrid doesn’t need to win Europa League Final to make the UEFA Champions League, but Marseille might.
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The two tangle Wednesday in Lyon, with Atleti’s Antoine Griezmann returning to France to face one of the biggest clubs in Ligue 1.
And there are two specific French strikers who may make the difference in the final, won last season by Manchester United. Atleti won the UEL in 2010 and 2012, and a French team has never won the tournament (Marseille is a two-time finalist).
Griezmann will be the key for Atletihas a goal or an assist in all but one Europa League match this season, and his 27 goals and 15 assists on the season on par with most of his better years despite playing in fewer matches.
Marseille’s Florian Thauvin was a bust under Steve McClaren at Newcastle, but has fulfilled every bit of his promise this season with OM after a terrific return to Ligue 1 last season.
Atleti has allowed a miserly 20 goals in league play this season, and just 13 more in 20 other matches. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak has been especially sensational in the tournament.
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.
A game of back-and-forth at the Emirates Stadium set up an enticing second leg in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, while a Ligue 1 side positioned itself well to move into the final.
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Arsenal and Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw in London, as Antoine Griezmann’s late strike leveled the match for the Spanish side.
The Gunners looked on their way to a victory when Alexandre Lacazette‘s goal just beyond the hour mark put Arsene Wenger‘s men in front.
The result sets up a strong showdown for the two giants in a week’s time, although Arsenal will feel it left something on the table after racking up 26 shots (seven on target) on the day, particularly after Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after 10 minutes for the visitors when he picked up a second yellow card.
Meanwhile, Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Red Bull Leipzig, giving the French side the edge it sought out ahead of the competition finale.
The two clubs will meet again at Red Bull Arena Salzburg for the second leg.
Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Marseille 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg