Europa League Final: Players to watch

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

Atletico Madrid take on Olympique Marseille on Wednesday evening in the Europa League final in Lyon.

Atleti will be hoping to claim the trophy for a third time and first since 2012, while Marseille are searching for their first major continental prize since becoming the only French club to win the Champions League back in 1993.

It promises to be an intriguing encounter with both teams packed full of attacking talent, but who are the players capable of making a difference?

FOX Sports Asia takes a look at some of the key players on display in Lyon.

Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
Fans of the Premier League will be all too familiar with the aggressive style of the former Chelsea frontman, with many Blues supporters still blaming his departure for their dramatic downturn in form this season. But it hasn’t all been roses for Costa since his return to the Spanish capital, he has scored just three goals in 14 league games. Still, Costa did score the deciding goal in Atleti’s tight semi-final victory over Arsenal and if anyone has the guts, determination and skill to come up with something special in Lyon then Costa is definitely the man. The Marseille defence can expect a torrid time.

Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
The French striker has been an important part of the Atleti attacking line-up for four years since joining from Real Sociedad and has a superb goal-scoring ratio of more than one goal in every two games. Griezmann’s pace and trickery make him the perfect foil for Costa, and he has the ability to cause lots of problems for the Marseille defence, provided he is in the right frame of mind. Rumours persist that the 27-year old will be off to Barcelona at the end of the season. If that proves to be the case, what better way to sign off than helping the club to it first European trophy in six years.

Dimitri Payet (Marseille)
Payet missed Marseille’s Ligue 1 game at the weekend with a minor muscle injury, but is expected to be fit. The former West Ham man has picked up where he left off since returning to France in January 2017. He has been in great form this season, scoring 10 league goals, while forming a potent attacking force alongside Florian Thauvin, Kostas Mitroglou and Lucas Ocampos. Known for his spectacular strikes and great dribbling skills, the star of Euro 2016 for France is capable of turning on the style on the big stage, and with three goals and six assists in the knockout stages, he will certainly pose a threat to Atleti’s tight defensive unit should he play.

Florian Thauvin (Marseille)
The 25-year old forward has enjoyed a breakthrough season in Ligue 1, scoring 26 goals so far, including four in the Europa League. Not bad for a winger. His exploits mean the Marseille star, once touted as the successor to Franck Ribery, is currently one of the hottest properties in French football, with a host of European clubs lining up for his signature. With eight goals in his last eight games in all competition, Thauvin is the focal point of Marseille’s neat, attacking play and the one player that Atleti will have have to keep an eye on.

Comments