Review: Marseille – Atletico Madrid
LYON, FRANCE - MAY 16: Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid celebrates after scoring his team's second goal of the game during the UEFA Europa League Final between Olympique de Marseille and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stade de Lyon on May 16, 2018 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Atletico Madrid gave a football masterclass to Marseille in the Europa League final. Antoine Griezman shined and was Man of the match with two goals for the winning team.

Parc Olympique Lyonnais welcomed Olympique Marseille and Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night in the Europa League final. Rudi Garcia made only change to his usual starting lineup and it was a defensive one. Frank Zambo Anguissa started in favor of Maxime Lopez. Steve Mandanda was on goal, Bouna Sarr, Adil Rami, Luiz Gustavo and Jordan Amavi formed the defensive front, Morgan Sanson joined Zambo Anguissa in central midfield, Lucas Ocampos and Florian Thauvin were the wingers, Dimitri Payet was the attacking midfielder and Valere Germain was the sole striker. On the other side, Diego Simeone was in the stands once again. The lineup that he sent onto the pitch was: Jan Oblak, Lucas Hernandez, Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez, Sime Vrsaljko (back from suspension), Koke, Saul Niguez, Gabi, Angel Correa, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa.

In the opening minutes, Valere Germain had a huge opportunity to score, but managed to miss a clear cut chance. Those are exactly the types of chances that Marseille couldn’t afford to miss if it were to win the trophy. Since the match was being played in Lyon, Marseille’s fans were all over the stadium, making the players feel right at home. That was very impportant for the French side, as they tend to struggle on the road. Firework fog covered the pitch and there was an explosion of noise every time Marseille’s players crossed the midfield line.

They were keeping possession and playing with confidence, reminiscent of how Arsenal was playing against Atletico in London. Then, a moment of lack of concentration was ruthlessly punished by Antoine Griezmann and the Spanish side had the lead. Mandanda decided to take a chance by passing the ball to Zambo Anguissa instead of kicking it away. The Cameroonian midfielder miscontrolled it and it came to Gabi, who simply past it on to Griezmann. It was all over after that, as the Frenchman was all alone against the keeper.

Sime Vrsaljko was the recipient of the first yellow card of the game. In the 31st minute, Dimitri Payet, who was nursing a muscle injury before the fixture, was forced to leave the pitch in tears. It was a huge blow for Olympique, whose captain was replaced by talented youngster Maxime Lopez. Moments later, Jordan Amavi was booked. The goal and Payet’s injury really took the steam out of the official hosts of the final. Atletico’s experience brought the half-time to a silent close.

The second half began with rain falling from the sky and a substitution on Atletico’s side. Juanfran came in for the booked Vrsaljko, signifying that Burgos didn’t want to take any chances with the Croatian right back making a second bookable offence. The rain had no effect on Antoine Griezmann, who scored his second goal of the final in the 49th minute. He got away from Amavi, Koke found him with a great pass and Atletico’s best player flicked the ball over the charging Mandanda for a 2-0 advantage. Godin nearly made it three, but his header after a corner kick went over the bar. He didn’t catch the ball as good as he would’ve liked to.

Clinton N’Jie was introduced from the bench, replacing an unhappy Lucas Ocampos. Marseille looked lost without its leader (Payet) pulling the strings, as Los Colchoneros were outclassing their opponent. In the 74th minute, Mitroglou replaced Germain. His first involvement was a header that hit the post. Kostas had beaten the keeper and was really unfortunate not to score. Gabi sealed the victory in the 89th minute. Atletico Madrid won the 2017/18 Europa League trophy and deservedly so. Well done!