Griezmann 21, Griezmann 49, Gabi 89
The Europa League final began with spectacular pictures from Lyon.
And I thought, ” This could be a cracker!”
Could Marseilles become the first French club to win the Europa League?
After all, their captain Dimitri Payet is one of the most two-footed playmakers in football today. Who created the first chance of the game?
Payet played Valère Germain into the box for a one-on-one, but Germain hit his shot just over the crossbar. If he’d scored in the fourth minute, it’s a very different match.
As we know, Atletico are tactically sharp and efficient in big games. That makes them formidable. They can sit deep and soak it up but also switch gears, go into a high press, win the ball back, make one pass and score.
While it was 0-0 Marseilles looked skilful and athletic. Then keeper Steve Mandanda hit a ridiculously risky pass to Zambo, who panicked and miskicked to Gabi. His pass allowed Griezmann to pounce and kill.
After 21 minutes, 1-0 to Atletico.
Payet had been a doubt before the match with a thigh injury and when he went off in tears in 32 minutes, Maxime Lopez came on in midfield.
Sccond half, Griezmann demonstrated his efficiency again. Koke played him in and the little striker slotted his 29th goal of the season.
Although Atletico were bossing it now, substitute Mitroglu managed a fine header that hit the post. Atletico soon reacted to that with quick passes that sliced through Marseilles again : Griezmann to Costa, then across to midfielder Gabi, who fired a daisycuttter just inside the far post for 3-0.
Gabi, 34, had played alongside manager Diego Simeone, who was still serving a touchline ban last night.
So there you have it : Atletico Madrid are a tough team with a lot of automatic and clinical finishing. Rugged and economical, they were always favourites for this Europa League after dropping out of the Champions League at the Group Stage.
Griezmann seems to be joining Barcelona and will give them extra sparkle inside the box.
Will he be as prolific in an attacking team as he is in this counter-attacking team? Will he get more chances in a team that dominate so much? Or will he have more defenders round him as he tries to shoot?
I say that because I’ve begun to realise that Antoine Griezmann is like Harry Kane. But not in style, obviously.
The whole Spurs team play for Kane, especially Alli and Eriksen.
And the Atletico team play for Griezmann, especially Koke and Costa. By doing what he does so consistently, Kane makes Pochettino’s style efficient and penetrating.
Griezmann, although a smaller striker, can score the goals that justify Atletico’s compact 4-4-2 style.
Spanish clubs have won eight of the last nine Champions and Europa League Finals.
The Uefa Cup/Europa League winners are:
3: Juventus, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid
2: Borussia Monchengladbach, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Gothenburg, Parma, Feyenoord and Porto.