Death. Taxes. A clean sheet for Atletico Madrid.
It’s one of life’s absolute certainties and we all experienced that firsthand as Atletico defeated Marseille 3-0 in the Europa League final on Wednesday in Lyon. A brace from Antoine Griezmann and a late tally from Gabi secured the club’s third title in rather comfortable fashion.
Here are four takeaways from Wednesday’s final.
Few teams are as defined by a particular style as Atletico Madrid. Anyone who has watched them under their enigmatic coach Diego Simeone knows what to expect from the Colchoneros. They will be incredibly stingy at the back, there will be no space in the final third from the opposition and they’ll pounce on any error.
This is exactly how the match played out. Marseille love to exploit the flanks and ping crosses into the box. Unfortunately for the French outfit, Atleti thrive in those situations. The defenders almost seem to enjoy the attacking pressure.
84,5% – Atlético de Madrid have kept 49 cleansheets at the half time of their 58 games in all competitions this season. Smooth pic.twitter.com/ixEHNmHJWi
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 16, 2018
However, when the creative Dimitri Payet exited with an injury just after the half-hour mark, Atletico’s job was simplified. Florian Thauvin and Lucas Ocampos became Marseille’s primary attacking threats. Valere Germain is not a striker who can win aerial duels like Kostas Mitroglou – who was not fit enough to start – so Atleti centre-backs Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez easily gobbled up the crosses into the box.
When Marseille’s wingers tried to improvise, especially Thauvin, Lucas Hernandez was incredibly alert. Hernandez deserves immense credit because the French attacker has been one of the most prolific attackers in Europe. He’s recorded 25 goals and 13 assists in 46 matches in all competitions this season.
Lucas Hernandez’s tackling chart, via WhoScored.
Eventually, a poorly controlled touch from Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa allowed Gabi to play in Antoine Griezmann for the opening goal. Another turnover in Marseille’s half of the pitch early in the second have led to Griezmann’s second strike.
This was typical Atleti in every sense by conceding just two shots on target and being opportunistic in the attacking third.
Team pass maps, via Stats Zone.
Dimitri Payet’s World Cup dream in jeopardy?
France coach Didier Deschamps will unveil his preliminary World Cup squad on Thursday. Dimitri Payet was favoured to make the cut with his incredible form over the past few weeks.
After his injury, and based on his tearful reaction when coming off, Payet’s World Cup chances may have taken a turn for the worst.
Dimitri Payet leaves the pitch in tears after being forced to come off with an injury
France’s World Cup squad is set to be announced tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/o9EKJZ0bRA
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 16, 2018
Payet picked up a muscular injury in training and missed the Guingamp match last Friday as a precaution. Despite some scintillating passes in the final third, the Frenchman did not look fit enough and was eventually withdrawn for Maxime Lopez.
The …read more