After painful defeats in recent continental finals, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid are determined to justify their status as favourites in Wednesday’s Europa League showpiece against Marseille in Lyon.
Atletico lost in extra time to Real Madrid in the Champions League final of 2014, having been seconds away from victory in 90 minutes, and then lost on penalties to their city rivals in the final of the same competition two years later.
An exit from this season’s Champions League in the group stage came as a big surprise for a formidable side spearheaded by Antoine Griezmann in attack, but they have put that behind them to close in on glory in Europe’s less prestigious competition.
Atletico are looking to win the Europa League for the third time in nine seasons, after triumphing in 2010 and again in 2012, shortly after ‘Cholo’ Simeone was appointed coach.
“We can’t wait for the final to come around,” full-back Juanfran told Radio Marca as Atletico target a first trophy since 2014, when they won La Liga.
“With ‘Cholo’ lots of things have changed at Atletico. Everything we have experienced in these last few years we will remember forever. I hope we can get another little medal.”
It would be a first, and possibly last major medal as an Atletico player for Griezmann, who was raised not far from Lyon but has spent his whole career in Spain.
The 27-year-old forward joined Atletico from Real Sociedad on the back of their title success in 2014, but could soon be on his way to Barcelona.Griezmann and Diego Costa will lead Simeone’s attack as Atletico return to Lyon, where they lost 3-0 to Dynamo Kiev in the final of the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup in 1986.
Atletico have had plenty of heartbreak in European finals down the years, as have Marseille.The French club have previously appeared in four, losing three, the exception being their victory over AC Milan in the inaugural Champions League final in 1993.
UEFA Champions League finals record
Los Colchoneros have played in the Champions League final on three separate occasions. Unfortunately for their cause, they have lost all three games. One against Bayern München (1973-74 season) and two more against Real Madrid (2013-14 and 2015-16). This is the only tournament where they hold a negative record in title-deciding matches.
UEFA Europa League finals record
Atlético has been involved in 18 UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup editions, winning the title in 2010 (against Fulham) and 2012 (against Athletic Club).
UEFA Super Cup
Like in the UEFA Europa League, Atlético has enjoyed nothing but success in their two appearances in this competition. The 2010-11 trophy went to their cabinets after beating Inter Milan, while they obtained the 2012-13 trophy by taking Chelsea to school with a 4-1 win.
All in all, Atlético Madrid has been involved in seven title-deciding games. Let’s see if their record improves to five wins and three loses, or if Simeone loses a third straight European final as Los Colchoneros’ boss.