This season’s UEFA Europa League final between Olympique Marseille and Atletico Madrid took place on Wednesday evening in Lyon, France.
It is quite rare that a team gets to play a major European final in its own country.
The fact that OM had that advantage this year, made some fans and experts believe that that could make up for the rather large gap in class that the French side certainly on paper, had to overcome compared to their far better-known opponents from the Spanish capital.
In the beginning of the match, it looked like that might be the case, as the crowd pushed OM forward. But then again, Atletico does not usually win games with class, they do it with brutal efficiency. That is what happened in this Europa League final.
French Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, who was born not far from Lyon, had two scoring chances in the game and converted them both. Toward the end, Gabi added a third Atletico goal for good measure.
Despite Marseille’s positive start, the match ended 3-0. Having an European final at home or close to it, can often be a burden and a curse, more than a blessing.
In recent memory, there are two cases of teams even having these finals in their home stadium itself and losing. It happened to Sporting Lisbon in the final of the 2005 UEFA Cup, as they lost to CSKA Moscow.
It also happened to Bayern Munich, as I remember all too well, in the 2012 Champions League final, the ill-fated Finale dahoam against Chelsea FC.
There are also positive examples of European finals in a team’s own country, such as Borussia Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League triumph against Juventus Turin in the old Olympic Stadium of Munich.
All that aside, Atletico was the much better team and deserved to win the Europa League, even though it was not the trophy the Champions League dropouts wanted.