The all-Spanish Europa League final will be played at National Arena in Bucharest and what a final that is going to be!
Both sides have impressed fans and pundits alike with their attractive style of play and everything suggests we will see football at its best when Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao meet in Romania.
While largely struggling in the first part of the season, Atletico Madrid have flourished under Diego Simeone and they are on the road to make this one of the most successful seasons in club’s recent history.
Los Colchoneros look set to miss out on Champions League qualification, but 5th-placed finish in La Liga can be considered a good result.
On the other hand, Atletico not only eliminated the likes of Lazio, Besiktas, Hannover and Valencia to reach Europa League final, but they did it in style, having won all eight games in the knockout stages.
The team are now on an 11-match winning run in Europe, so no wonder they are 2.50 (3/2) favourites with Stan James to beat Athletic in regular time.
Diego Simeone will have to make do without suspended Tiago, whereas Luis Perea is doubtful through injury. Fran Merida is ineligible, while Silvio Azevedo is still not match fit.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Courtois – Juanfran, Godin, Miranda, Filipe Luis – Mario, Gabi – Adrian, Diego, Turan – Falcao.
UEFA chiefs may have to bestow a special award on Athletic Bilbao when the season ends as los Leones have done brilliantly to popularize Europa League this term.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side played attractive attacking football from the very start of the campaign and it is fair to say they fully deserve to be crowned champions.
Athletic have been even more impressive than their next opponents in the knockout stages, having eliminated the likes of Lokomotiv Moscow, Manchester United, Schalke and Sporting Lisbon.
They now face a tough task against resurgent Atletico, but having come this far they can be trusted to lift the trophy, with Bodog paying 2.00 (1/1) should that happen.
Marcelo Bielsa decided to call just 18 players for the biggest game in club’s recent history, but the good thing is both Fernando Amorebieta and Iker Muniain are in the squad, which means they are ready to start after recovering from injury.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Iraizoz – Iraola, Javi Martinez, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe – De Marcos, Iturraspe, Herrera – Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain.