Home Sports Football Europa League Atleti defence to strangle Marseille attack
Atleti defence to strangle Marseille attack

Atleti defence to strangle Marseille attack

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Thursday’s Europa League final features a true clash of styles as Atletico Madrid take on Marseille.

With Atleti famous for their stubbornness, it will be up to Les Phoceens’ enigmatic front-line to set the tone in Lyon.

Atletico 7/5 to win to zero

Marseille, who have lost the final of this competition twice, have been a bit of a surprise package during the campaign.

They possess a bit of a rogue’s gallery, with former Premier League stars Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin amongst their attacking options, with Lucas Ocampos providing the work-rate to complement their craft.

Payet still has the dazzling feet he demonstrated at West Ham, providing a tournament-high seven assists, while Thauvin has improved dramatically since his days at Newcastle, netting 20 league goals and adding 10 assists this term.

Ocampos will look to stretch Los Colchoneros in behind, while Valere Germain will provide good hold-up play. However, it will be down to their two main playmakers to make the difference.

While Marseille love to attack, two-time winners Atleti are the opposite, building their success through a stern defence, and their expected back-line of Juanfran, Stefan Savic, Diego Godin and Filipe Luis are likely to get tight early on and not let their opposition breathe.

They then have to get past Jan Oblak, a man who on current form appears a candidate for the best goalkeeper in the world.

Heading into the final game of the La Liga season, Atleti have conceded the lowest amount of goals, 20, nine less than the next best, champions Barcelona.

It is likely to be this ability to strangle the game that will make the difference and it could be a frustrating night for Rudi Garcia’s star men who, on paper, lack the winning mentality of Los Colchoneros.

Diego Costa 17/4 to be First Goalscorer

If there is one man who reflects Diego Simeone’s win-at-all-costs mentality, it is Diego Costa.

The Spain international returned to Atletico in January and despite his customary hamstring injuries, remains an absolute menace.

Costa netted the only goal in the semi-final, second-leg win over Arsenal and will be desperate to shine, having limped off after just nine minutes in his only previous European final, the 2014 Champions League showpiece.

Marseille’s run to the final has been built on their form at the Stade Velodrome, winning only one of their nine away games in Europe. They also lost 2-0 when they faced Lyon at Parc OL on December 17.

And having appeared vulnerable in their last-gasp, semi-final win over Red Bull Salzburg, it looks set to be a successful night for Atletico.

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Jack Ogalbe Jack has been a sports betting writer for over a decade and has an excellent strike rate with his suggestions. A semi-professional footballer, runner and cyclist, his sports knowledge is second to none and he knows all the stats and facts you need when considering a punt.