It has been a long season in European soccer, with congested schedules in the majority of European leagues and continental competitions such as Europa League, due to the upcoming World Cup in Russia. And what a season has it been! First of the major European club finals will be played in Lyon, France on June 17th where Olympique de Marseille and Atletico Madrid will fight for the 2018 UEFA Europa League crown. Besides the bragging rights and monetary rewards, the winner of the UEFA Europa League will be guaranteed a spot in the UEFA Champions League next season.
I always found betting on the Final games to be especially tricky and unpredictable. So much depends on the dynamic of the game and the game plans prepared by both sides. A game with such high stakes is sure to produce some entertaining and intense soccer.
Olympique de Marseille will be playing in the UEFA Europa League final without the services of three important first team members. Defenders Adil Rami (yellow cards) and Rolando (calf injury) will miss the game, as well as forward Konstantinos Mitroglou (leg injury). Olympique de Marseille favors 4-2-3-1 formation with a lone forward up front and a strong midfield.
Atletico Madrid will be missing midfielder Victor Vitolo and defender Jose Maria Gimenez due to muscle injuries. Since they have one of the sturdiest defenses in Europe, Atletico Madrid will probably go for a more traditional 4-4-2 formation, which should leave more room for Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann to operate up front.
UEFA Europa League (previously known as UEFA League) is a competition which has been recently dominated by the Spanish clubs. Eight out of the last fourteen EL finals have been won by Spanish clubs, including two titles by Atletico Madrid in 2010 and 2012.
On the other hand, Olympique de Marseille have played twice in the EL finals, losing both of them. First one in 1999 to Parma and the second one in 2004 to Valencia.
Olympique de Marseille have been a picture of offensive soccer, scoring 22 goals in their last eight games, 5 of which they have won. On their way to UEFA Europa League Final, they have eliminated Austrian Salzburg side with a 3-2 aggregate score. They are currently placed 4th in the French League 1, a place which doesn’t guarantee them a UEFA Champions League spot next season. This should be an additional motivation for them since winning UEFA Europa League will secure them a spot in the UEFA Champions League next season.
On the other hand, Atletico Madrid have already secured a UEFA Champions League spot next year, by clinching the 2nd place in Spanish La Liga behind Barcelona. Still, winning a UEFA Europa League title would go a long way to make up for a trophy-less season. They enter the UEFA Europa League final touting one of the strongest defenses in Europe. Last 6 Atletico Madrid games have been low-scoring affairs, none of them have seen more than two goals scored in total.
UEFA Europa League Winner, Double Chance, and Goals Markets
According to 888sport, Atletico Madrid are 7/10 favorites to win the game in regulation, Marseille are a 22/5 underdog, and the odds for the draw are set at 27/10. Even though Atletico Madrid is the favorite to win the title, I believe that Olympique de Marseille will be a more motivated side. A double-chance bet for Olympique de Marseille to win or draw in regulation is set at 6/5. I think that there is significant value in this bet.
The game is not expected to be a high-scoring affair, due to Atletico Madrid’s defensive approach to controlling the games. I have seen them employ this suffocating tactic in numerous games and taking advantage of the opponent’s mistakes through counter-attacks. There is a great value to be found in betting on Atletico Madrid or Olympique de Marseille to keep a clean sheet in the game, where the odds are set at 4 to 6.
Odds of both teams scoring less than 2.5 goals in the game are set at 4 to 6, while the odds for more than 2.5 goals in a match are set at 6 to 5. Since the game is expected to be a tight contest, I think that less than 2.5 goals is a better bet.
Goal Scorer and Correct Score Markets
It seems counter-intuitive to bet on who will score a goal in a game which is expected to be a low-scoring affair. Nevertheless, I think that particularly for that reason there is additional value to be found in betting on goal scorers in this game.
The best chance for Olympique de Marseille to score is with Florian Thauvin at 19/5 odds. He has been in tremendous form, scoring eight goals in last eight games. He is also expected to be the lone forward in the French side’s formation.
The dual-headed attack of Atletico Madrid is led by Antoine Griezmann with 11/5 odds to score anytime, and Diego Costa with 13/5 odds. The duo is expected to pose a lot of problems to Olympique de Marseille’s back line, which has been spotty at times this season.
For more adventurous bettors, I like the odds on Angel Correa to score for Atletico Madrid. The odds for him to score any time during the match are set at 49/20. In Olympique de Marseille side, I like the odds of 6/1 for Dimitri Payet, dead-ball specialist for the French side, to score at any point during the match.
Betting on correct score can be tricky in games where both sides prefer attacking soccer. I think that picking Atletico Madrid to win by a score of 1:0 at odds of 9/2 is the closest thing to a sure bet.
Final games in soccer rarely deliver spectacular performances and scoring fireworks. They are more often remembered by the tactical prowess of teams, gritty matchups and moments of individual brilliance that decide the game.
UEFA Europa League Final is set to be a clash of two different philosophies in soccer. Olympique de Marseille, with their up-tempo flowing and attacking soccer and Atletico Madrid, with their defensive control that is unparalleled in this competition.
An intense soccer game awaits, with plenty of options to choose from when betting. Also, it’s an excellent opportunity to get some additional value for your money and spice up the game night.