Rafa Benítez Blog RSS Rafa Benítez Blog

May 2012
14:18 Comments (15)

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.

15 Comments Send us your opinions
08/05/12 at 15:31:55 #1
Tactically, i prefer the look of madrid's "14231", however, since the two teams are spanish and have technical players, the intenisty, intent and determination could be the deciding factor.

The difference could be psychological as the pressure from spanish fans and media will be more intense for different reasons. The EL is the junior competition and the elimination of RM and FCB from the CL makes this final more and less appealing at the same time.

As usual, it depends on the players and how they handle the pressure when the whistle blows.
08/05/12 at 15:51:14 #2
That's all very well.... But we need you back at Liverpool fc!

We need you back on your seat doing what you do best! when you left it was inevitable that we would find our club in this position it is today. All true supporters who knew this would be one of the clubs biggest loses in its history!

All I'd like to know is... If the job became available back at Liverpool and the managers position was vacant,would you take the job if offered to you??

It's just that since you have left fans and I have been constantly repeating that we want you back.. Now!

At least you can put a stop this if you say didn't want the job... Not that that's what we want to hear...

We need a Rafalution again!!!!
08/05/12 at 16:39:25 #3
Looking forward to this match. I like the way both teams are structured and the way they attack. Atletico Madrid link up well, especially with Diego moving between the lines and linking with Falcao as well as with the full backs when they move forward. Falcao is usually difficult for oppositions to deal with because of his movement and general goal threat.

However I feel that Athletic are favourites because they have such great work rate and because their attacking ability is so good, especially Llorente and Muniain. They can be vulnerable on quick transitions as well as in the space around Iturraspe and Amorebieta can be vulnerable because he doesn't have a low centre of gravity but I think they as a side are still favourites.

08/05/12 at 17:01:14 #4
Thanks for all your posts they are all very interesting, and are all good reads! I don't suppose you have a prediction for the final do you? I entirely agree it will be a very good match - probably better than the CL final!
09/05/12 at 00:28:27 #5
Rafa Red Men
Hey Rafa fancy doing an analyses on the Valencia crushing machine system, that you used to incorporate at Valencia when you get some time of course.


Hello, maybe in a future. Thanks.
09/05/12 at 06:44:45 #6
Hi Rafa,

Thanks for the preview. It's fantastic. I find previews much better than your usual post-match analysis as you can point out the strengths and weaknesses of the teams for us to analyse on match days. Although I understand it will be difficult for you to do that for other teams that you don't have indepth knowledge. (I did ask you this before and you explained that it will be hard)

Hope your family and you are doing well and that you are having a good break. We all miss you at LFC and it will be a dream come true if you will come back as manager one day!


Hello, also you have to understand I'm a manager not a pundit and I don't lie to analyse in depth or criticize other managers. Thanks.
09/05/12 at 19:12:58 #7
Hello Rafa,

This year Bilbao is a sensation.The way they are playing in this year especially in the cups is awesome.

The two teams are well balanced.Even though Bilbao is more appealing.

lets hope for a great spectacle of two different styles one is based on counter and other is on the attacking.

lets see who will win this..personally i support BILBAO..
09/05/12 at 22:40:45 #8
Conrad Lodziak
Match just finished. Atletico counter-attacked with precision. Athletic not precise enough. But a draw would have been a fair result.
09/05/12 at 23:21:32 #9
I felt before the match that Madrid had to restrict bilbaos crossing into the box from wide ares and they did that very well , they out numbered and out passed a very narrow Bilboa midfield.I Thought the first half maybe Munian should of gone behind llorente just to give that extra man in midfield.

2nd half bilboa evened up in midfield but I thought bielsa would of utilised the wide men and wings back more to get wide and get the crosses in, especially when torquero came on but they didn't really push that issue and Madrid were not fazed out wide at all until the last few minutes.

What did you think rafa ?



Good analysis Ryan, I will write mine tomorrow. Thanks.
10/05/12 at 12:29:21 #10
Hi Rafa,

Nothing to do really with the game last night but was just wandering about something and remembered that you were at the Stoke 0 Valencia 1 game back in February. Would you remember what shape did Valencia line up in? Many thanks!


Hello Ivo, I don't remember the team now, you can find it on internet. But they played 1-4-2-3-1. Thanks.
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