Preview: Atletico Madrid – Athletic Club (Europa League Final)By: Paul | May 8th, 2012
Wednesday 9th May 2012 20:45 local time
Tomorrow, Athletic will contest the Europa League final against Atletico Madrid- it will be a chance for Los Leones to win a trophy for the first time since before I was born.
Athletic last reached this same stage in 1977, losing away to Juventus 1-0 before returning to San Mames and winning 2-1. Of course, the away goals rule prevented Athletic from winning the (then) UEFA Cup. On the other hand, Atletico won the “inaugural” Europa League in 2010.
And so it all comes down to this. Athletic played to an unspectacular goalless draw against Getafe this past weekend, fielding a squad consisting almost entirely of bench players, likely to keep the starters fresh for the final. The squad performed superbly in the Europa League thus far (Jack has already recounted the road to the final in the previous two posts), and Athletic will feel hard done if defeating the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, and Schalke ends up amounting to nothing.
Athletic have already proven their worth against Atletico this season, but faltered when playing against them in Madrid. Llorente scored a brace in the first match, with Falcao equaling that in the second match; both teams will be looking to their star strikers to provide and this is indeed a match that promises some great attacking football.
The squad is all available for the final, save Amorebieta who will be a game-time decision due to a calf problem. Athletic will wear their green kit with embroidery for the final (I need to buy one of these).
Athletic Call-Ups: Iraizoz, Toquero, Aurtenetxe, Amorebieta, San José, Iturraspe, Llorente, De Marcos, Gabilondo, Raúl, Susaeta, Iraola, Iñigo Pérez, Muniain, Ander Herrera, Ekiza, Javi Martínez, Ibai
Iraola – Javi Martinez – Amorebieta – Aurtenetxe
Susaeta – Ander – Muniain
I wish I had something more profound to say…but I’m too damned excited!