Josue Jamlang

What: UEFA Europa League final
Who: Fulham vs Atletico Madrid
When: Wednesday 12th May, 2010, at 19:45 BST
Where: HSH Nordbank Arena, Hamburg, Germany

Completing the Fairytale Story

Fulham have undoubtedly been the Cinderella story of the Europa League this season, with the unassuming side navigating their way past very tough opposition to find themselves in the final. Under Roy Hodgson, The Cottagers have looked capable of beating top-class clubs, and they displayed that ability for all to see when they dispatched the likes of Wolfsburg, Hamburg and Juventus earlier in the tournament.

Fulham’s recent form in the Premier League has been clearly disappointing, but with the mid-table side having virtually nothing to play for domestically, it is no wonder the players are saving all their energy for this all important chance to make history.

Should Hodgson’s side prevail, Fulham will win their first ever major European trophy in the club’s 131-year history, and they will have done it in fascinating fashion.

In the Hunt for a Double

Atletico Madrid may have only really won two games in the knockout stages of the Europa League, but they find themselves with a chance of European glory after dispatching Liverpool in the semi-final. The Spanish side will be finishing in the middle of the La Liga table this season, but are set to contest the Copa del Rey as well later in the month.

With an opportunity to finish an arguably mediocre campaign in spectacular fashion, Atletico will surely be fully motivated to end their season on a high note. The Madrid based club, who overcame the likes of Valencia, Sporting Lisbon and Galatasaray to reach the final, may have not devastated the opposition en route, but they are certainly worthy of contesting the showpiece.

With a squad boasting the likes of Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero, Simao Sabrosa and Raul Garcia, Atletico will undoubtedly be favourites going in to the intriguing tie.

Recent form

Fulham 3-2 West Ham United (02/05; Premier League)
Fulham 0-1 Stoke City (05/05; Premier League)
Arsenal 4-0 Fulham (09/05; Premier League)

Atletico Madrid:

Sevilla 3-1 Atletico Madrid (02/05; La Liga)
Atletico Madrid 3-1 Real Valladolid (05/05; La Liga)
Sporting Gijon 1-1 Atletico Madrid (08/05; La Liga)

Key absences

Fulham: Damien Duff; Bobby Zamora (doubt); Andrew Johnson

Atletico Madrid: Luis Perea; Antonio Lopez, Pablo Ibanez

Players to watch

Fulham – Mark Schwarzer: Mark Schwarzer has been a solid addition to the Fulham squad since his transfer in 2008 and he has emphasised that in this campaign. His performances in the Europa League this season have been legendary, with his contributions at times, all that kept The Cottagers from losing. Another rock-solid display in the final could go a long way towards helping the English side claim their first European trophy.

Atletico Madrid – Diego Forlan: Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan has been the source of vital goals for Atletico Madrid in the Europa League this season, as he demonstrated when he bagged two crucial strikes against Liverpool in the semi-final. The Uruguayan international has shown a knack for finding the back of the net when it counts, and should be a nuisance for the Fulham defence for the entire match.

Match prediction

Fulham have shown time and time again this season, that they are a very strong side to come up against at Craven Cottage. The likes of Manchester United and Juventus were devastatingly defeated in London, but with the match being played in Hamburg, the comfort levels are sure to be different. With Atletico Madrid’s superior firepower, the La Liga side will edge it 2-1.


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