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May 2012

The UEFA Europa League Final is nearly upon us and it will feature two Spanish teams who will looking to redress the fact that no La Liga team, against all the forecasts, will be taking part in the Champions League Final in spite of both Barcelona and Real Madrid being favourites to be there.

So next Wednesday we will see an evenly matched final in Bucharest (Romania) between two sides who have had a great tournament, scoring goals and coming out on top in most of the games they have played to get to the final.

The following graphic shows the possible starting line-ups:

As for what we can expect from both teams, Atletico Madrid have based their success on team work, intensity in their play and the quality of their attacking players such as Diego’s passes, Falcao’s finishing and the individual ability of Adrian amongst other things.

You can add to this the attacking play of their full backs, Luis Felipe and now JuanFran, a wide player playing at full back, the balance that Mario Suarez and Gabi give them since Tiago is banned, and the solidity of the two centre backs and their goalkeeper, Courtois, who has had a great season.

As for Athletic, they have founded their success on the intensity of their play with and without the ball. Also the attacking of their full backs, especially Iraola, and their arrival from deep to support Llorente. The mobility of Susaeta and Muniain as well as the attacking of De Marcos and Ander Herrera gives them variety in their attack which, with Llorente, can be flexible due to his ability in the air and also with the ball at his feet. The defenders, solid and pragmatic, maintain the balance between attack and defence.

In essence, it promises to be an exciting match as it is evenly balanced with both teams having different characteristics and because of their fans who are among the most passionate and supportive when their players are seen to be giving everything for the cause.