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UEFA Europa League

  • May 9, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Arena Naţională, Bucureşti
  • Referee: W. Stark
  • • Attendance: 52347
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Atletico Madrid - Athletic Bilbao Preview: Bucharest set for all-Spanish Europa League final

Atletico Madrid - Athletic Bilbao Preview: Bucharest set for all-Spanish Europa League final

Fernando Llorente - Athletic Bilbao

European glory beckons in the Romanian capital on Wednesday night as the Primera Liga rivals face off to be crowned champions of the continent's second-tier club competition

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

ATLETICO MADRID

Courtois
Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe
Suarez, Gabi
Adrian, Diego, Turan
Falcao
ATHLETIC BILBAO

Iraizoz
Iraola, Martinez, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe
De Marcos, Iturraspe, Herrera
Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain


Atletico Madrid defender Luis Perea has shaken off a thigh problem and is fit for the Europa League final clash with Athletic Bilbao.

Captain Antonio Lopez is likely to be available, but Portuguese full-back Silvio will not return until next season.

Gabi should start in midfield in place of the suspended Tiago, while Fran Merida is cup-tied.

Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa will revert to his strongest line-up after resting a number of players at the weekend.

Defender Fernando Amorebieta has a minor calf problem and will be given a late fitness test, but strikers Iker Muniain and Fernando Llorente will return having been left out of the squad for the goalless draw with Getafe.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Atletico Madrid come into the final on an 11-game Europa League winning streak, since losing 2-0 at Udinese in the group stage.
  • Los Colchoneros have never faced Athletic Bilbao in European competition before. Of the sides' 150 domestic league meetings, the capital club lead with 64 wins to Athletic's 59.
  • Atletico are appearing in their eighth major European final. Their first appearance resulted in 1961-62 Cup Winners' Cup success against Fiorentina, while they also won the inaugural edition of the Europa League against Fulham in 2009-10.
  • Radamel Falcao (pictured right) is level with Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar at the top of the Europa League scoring charts with 10 goals.
  • Athletic Bilbao have won just four of their last 11 matches in all competitions (W4, D3, L4).
  • The Basques beat their final opponents 3-0 at home in the league in October, but a Falcao double gave Atletico a 2-1 victory at the Vicente Calderon in March.
  • Athletic have never won a European trophy. Their only previous European final brought defeat on away goals by Juventus over two legs in the 1977 Uefa Cup.
  • Marcelo Bielsa was Diego Simeone's coach with Argentina from 1998 until the 2002 World Cup. The ex-Atletico midfielder made the last of his 106 international appearances under Bielsa in Sapporo, in a 1-0 defeat by England.

Players to watch

R. Falcao

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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The key for Atletico will be to get the ball to the lethal Colombian as much as possible, and, to do that, the Rojiblancos will need to match Athletic's intensity and work rate in midfield. The Basques' high tempo approach can make possession difficult to hold on to, so Falcao's job could be an old-fashioned one of holding the ball up and bringing his team-mates into play in the attacking third of the pitch.

Llorente

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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It is his strength in the air that makes the 27-year-old Spaniard, linked with a host of big clubs across Europe, such a dangerous opponent. His movement and technical ability are other assets, as Sporting Lisbon found to their cost in the semi-final, meaning Diego Godin and Miranda will need to rely on much more than their aerial presence to keep Llorente quiet.

Editor's Prediction

The abundance of attacking talent on both sides should make for an entertaining final, but it is the team from Bilbao who hold a slight edge having rested almost their entire first XI at the weekend. Under Bielsa, the Basques have evolved into a sophisticated, coherent attacking force, and Atletico will need to find the energy to play a couple of hours of high tempo football without an equal share of possession to nick this.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Atlético Madrid

Athletic Club

Wins
5
0
0
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Club Atlético de Madrid ATM
Club Atlético de Madrid Atlético Madrid
Draw
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
Athletic Club Bilbao Athletic Club
47%
43%

Top 3 Predictions

Club Atlético de Madrid ATM
2 - 1
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
Club Atlético de Madrid ATM
1 - 2
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH
Club Atlético de Madrid ATM
1 - 3
Athletic Club Bilbao ATH

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