The inaugural run of the UEFA Europa League has certainly been host to an array of stories, producing fairytales, nightmares, some fantastic displays of soccer on the pitch and will culminate next Wednesday as the prolific final goes ahead.
Taking place at the Hamburg Arena in Germany, England’s final hope of European glory this season rests upon the shoulders of Fulham FC who face the Spanish giants Atlético Madrid in the highly anticipated final.
England’s final hope of European glory this season rests upon the shoulders of Fulham FC who face the Spanish giants Atlético Madrid in the highly anticipated final.
Back in July 2009, 192 clubs from around Europe set out on their campaign for European success through the 2010 Europa League, and the dream is still alive for just two teams – both of which have had a fantastic journey to Hamburg.
Kicking off at 8.45pm CET on the 12th of May, the final will be the London sides first performance in a major European final, while Atlético are quite used to the European competition.
With both sides emerging from the tournament with a fantastic tale to tell no matter what the outcome next week, Atlético Madrid are currently going into the final as the favourites to claim the crown at $2.25, while Fulham are at $3 in what is set to be a thrilling match.
Fulham have had quite a journey of it, most recently defeating Hamburg SV in the semis, ensuring the German team would not enjoy the special moment of playing a major final at their home ground.
Roy Hodgson’s men started in the tournament from the outset, facing FK Vètra on the 30th of July last year in the Group stages.
The Cottagers then faced defending title champions Shakhtar Donetsk in the knock out stage, and came from behind to beat Italian giants Juventus 4-1 at home to progress 5-4 on aggregate.
It was then a case of knocking out two German sides in VfL Wolsfburg and Hamburg, overcoming a draining 20-hour coach trip, and coming from behind once again to qualify for the final.
Throughout the tournament, especially since the knock-out stages, the English side have thrived under the title of underdogs, and relished the task of overcoming the odds – and while they do go into the final as outsiders, the London side can simply not be written off until the final whistle.
While Atlético are certainly familiar with the UEFA competition, and the top end of La Liga, relegation was on the cards at the end of 2009 when Abel Resino was sacked from his coaching position and the Spanish side pulled themselves back together again.
Atlético started their 2009/10 European campaign in the UEFA Champions League, finishing third in their Group and have simply scraped by in their matches during the Europa League.
Other than the sides initial game in the knock out stages verses Galatassaray where they progressed as 3-2 winners, the Quique Sánchez Flores team have drawn on aggregate every other match, progressing on the away goal rule.
So with just over a week to go, head to Ladbrokes.com.au to place a bet on the match, or just to keep and eye on the available odds and markets.