The Europa League final between Atletico Madrid and Marseille will be historic for Atletico who are making their second Europa Cup final at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon.
Memories of their 1986 3-0 defeat to Dynamo Kiev at the same venue is bound to come rushing back as they square up against their French opponents, Wednesday night.
Both teams are in for an epoch-making encounter as Atletico Madrid were the first club to win the UEFA Europa Cup after it was rebranded while Marseille was the first club to be proclaimed UEFA Champions League winner in 1993.
Diego Simeone’s lads have already booked their place in next season’s Champions League having finished at second place in the Spanish La Liga behind Barcelona while Marseille is a point outside Ligue 1 qualifying berths with one game to end the season while a win for the French side would see them book automatic ticket to the Champions League next season.
Both teams have met just twice in all European competitions in 2008/2009 Champions’ League group stage with Atletico Madrid defeating Marseille 2-1 in France while the second leg at the Stade Velodrome ended goalless as Marseille finished in the third place.
Marseille have been involved in four previous major UEFA competition finals, while Atlético Madrid will be competing in their ninth – and fifth in the past nine seasons.
Atlético have won three out of eight major UEFA competition finals, the first in the 1962 European Cup Winners’ Cup 3-0 in a Stuttgart replay against Fiorentina after a 1-1 draw in Glasgow) and the other two in the UEFA Europa League – in 2010 against Fulham in Hamburg 2-1 After Extra Time and 2012, with current coach Simeone in charge, against Athletic Club in Bucharest 3-0.
Atletico Madrid is second in the La Liga table and won their last domestic league game against Getafe and with one game to end the season, they have already booked their place for next season’s Champions League.
The Spanish side has been in spectacular form this season and can boast of a good record against French clubs, having played 12 matches against Ligue 1 teams winning 6, drawing 5 and losing just one.
The Los Rojiblancos however, have not beaten a French club in France since September 1961, when they won 3-2 at Sedan in the first round of their triumphant European Cup Winners’ Cup campaign.
Marseille’s fate of playing in next season’s Champions League now rest on them lifting the title in Lyon.
Marseille failed to win in their last Ligue 1 game as they played a 3-3 draw with Guingamp which dealt a blow to their chase of finishing in the second place to qualify for the Champions League.
UEFA Cup runners-up in 1998/99 and 2003/04, Marseille have reached the UEFA Europa League final for the first time in four attempts. Their previous campaigns ended in the round of 16 (2009/10), the group stage (2012/13) and the round of 32 (2015/16).
Marseille have won only four of their 15 UEFA competition matches against Spanish opposition, losing eight. However, two of those wins came in this season’s UEFA Europa League round of 16, when they beat Athletic Club home 3-1 and away 2-1, the latter their first success in Spain at the seventh attempt.
Those eight defeats include a 2-0 loss to Valencia in the 2004 UEFA Cup final in Gothenburg. Marseille got the better of Spanish opponents in their UEFA Intertoto Cup final the following year, defeating Deportivo La Coruña 5-3 on aggregate 0-2 away, 5-1 home.
WHAT THE COACHES ARE SAYING
DIEGO SIMEONE: “We’re going to play another final. We’re feeling lots of emotions, but also humility. You need to be humble, work hard and understand we’re going to face a tough rival.
“Olympique de Marseille have been magnificent in the Europa League. It’ll be a beautiful final. I see similarities between the two teams. We’re going to need to seize control of the match.”
“They’re a dangerous team offensively. They have very offensive minded wing backs and they’re well prepared.”