How Atletico Madrid outsmarted Marseille in the Europa League final
Written by: Atrayo Bhattacharya
The Madrid giants finally did not choke but won a final.
Diego Simeone and his men added another feather to their cap as the Rojiblancos triumphed over Marseille in the Europa League final. The Spanish side was at their usual best and hardly allowed Marseille to settle in the game. Griezmann scored a double and Gabi grabbed a late third to put an end to Marseille's title chase.
Rudi Garcia's men started the match pretty positively as their fluid passing and quick buildup caught the Atleti defence wondering at times. However, the French side was not clinical enough as Valeri Germain got a golden opportunity to take the lead but could not capitalize. Rudi Garcia made a change as he put in youngster Anguissa over Lopez with the intention of winning the duals against Atletico but the move did not work wonders for them.
Payet, as usual, was the orchestrator of all the attacking movements made by his team, especially on the wider areas. Fullbacks, at times, joined the wingers in the forward runs as Thauvin and Sarr were seen exchanging quick passes on the right flank.
Watch: Marseille 0-3 Atletico Madrid highlights
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, were allowing Marseille all the possession of the ball as they looked for opportunities to hit them on the counter. Robust defending and continuos pressing from the Rojiblancos didn't allow Marseille to settle in the game. Meanwhile, an error from Anguissa opened the door for Griezmann to run past the Marseille defence and eventually beat Mandanda to score the opening goal. Marseille faced a double blow as their captain Dimitri Payet went out of the pitch, owing to an injury.
Payet had this niggle before coming onto the match but Rudi Garcia thought its a gamble worth taking. The move completely backfired and his decision to go with an inexperienced midfielder in a crucial game just because of his physicality is also questionable as the first goal was conceded because of Anguissa's mistake.
As the game developed, Atletico held a firm grip on the game where Marseille looked entirely helpless. The French side tried everything but could not break the Spanish defence. Atletico kept on pressing Marseille to disrupt their buildup and drew out errors from them. Marseille with a goal down and then losing their captain and midfield pivot had no answer to Madrid's questions as the Spanish side slowly squeezed their French counterparts out with shrewd pressing and quick counters.
Gabi was allowed a free role in the middle so that the Spaniard could pull the strings from a deeper role. Koke and Saul did the energetic running up and down the field as Angel Correa helped Griezmann going forward. Atleti didn't feel Simeone's absence, as assistant manager, German Burgos guided the team well and encouraged them to keep on pressing from the touchline.
Marseille who started on a positive note slowly faded as the game approached the final minutes. Koke and Griezmann exchanged passes in the final third before the former lifted the ball over Mandanda to double the lead.
Marseille knew that they had a mountain to climb but they kept going and time and again they failed to create an opening in the Atletico defence. Madrid's back four played as a cohesive unit and the understanding between each other was clearly evident.
Same could not be said for the Marseille defence as centre-backs Adil Rami and Luiz Gustavo could not manage to keep that cohesion and had huge spaces in the middle of the final third. Excess spaces in the particular area cost them two goals.
That's that! Griezmann finally wins a European Final after losing twice on previous occasions.
Marseille kept trying to the best of their abilities and came close as substitute forward Mitroglou headed Sanson's stunning cross before being denied by the post. The particular miss actually sums up Marseille's night completely, so close yet so far.
Finally, Gabi hammered the final nail in the coffin as he calmly slotted the ball at the back of the net after a decent buildup. Torres came on to cherish the final moments for his swansong as the EL Nino will be leaving after hosting Eibar on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid showed a lot of character than their counterparts and they rightly have more experiences of nights like these in Europe. They are currently one of meanest defences in entire Europe. Diego Simeone has built a glorious legacy with these players as his philosophy and their execution on the field is taking Atletico Madrid to soaring new heights.
Published: Thu May 17, 2018 08:01 PM IST