When Arsenal got paired with Atletico Madrid in the semi-final draw of the Europa League, the fixture was tagged by some fans as “final before the final.” It’s no secret that both clubs are favorites to win the competition.
But with the way Atleti has been playing in recent times (1 win in their last 5 games), it is hard to think of this game as a final. But then again, it’s a cup competition. And both clubs will be fired up to go all the way.
The second semi-final match-up is not as popular as the first. The two teams playing in it are not the most popular in Europe. They don’t even come close. But this is football and this game may just be the more exciting of the two semi-final games.
With the games set to be played this week, what other things must you know?
Arsenal vs. Atletico Madrid
The Gunners have started counting down the days of being managed by the legend in Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman announced that he will be stepping down at the end of the season; a move that could change everything for Arsenal.
The players may well be motivated to go all the way and win the EL trophy for their darling manager. And with only two losses since their EL campaign started this season, Arsenal seem to be in the right place to do that.
But they will have to get the better of a side that has only lost 1 of their last 7 Europa League games. Atletico Madrid is a side familiar with the Europa League terrain. They have won it a number of times and will be looking to assert their dominance there once again.
The last time both sides played against each other, the Gunners won the game 2-1. But that was a friendly game and this one has the season of both managers depending on it.
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Marseille vs. Salzburg
The French side has found a way to maintain an unbeaten home record in the Europa League this season. 4 of their home games this season have seen them win 3 and drawn just one.
Salzburg on the other hand, is notorious for a number of things, most notably their goal-scoring prowess. The Austrian side scored 2 goals in all but one of their 4 away games in the Europa League this campaign.
It may not be the most popular match but this one has a lot of goals written all over it, according to recent stats. But the history between the two clubs says otherwise.
In the last two meetings between both sides, one of the games ended in a 0-0 draw while the other saw Salzburg win the game by a 1-0 margin.
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Which two teams do you think will qualify for the final of this year’s Europa League? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts with us.