The Europa League competition reaches its climax on Wednesday with Germany’s Hamburg Arena playing host to Atletico Madrid and Fulham. Who will emerge as the first winners of this new format competition? We shall soon find out…
In England, the incredible European exploits of Fulham have made many neutral observers sit up and taken notice of manager Roy Hodgson and his football team. They may not be a team full of superstars but their record in getting to the final speaks for itself. Starting with victories against FK Vetra and then getting through to the group stage by overcoming Amkar Perm, Fulham really began making headlines when they progressed further and managed a win and a draw against Shakhtar. Next up were the Italian giants Juventus, and, after losing 3-1 in Italy, Fulham looked to be on the brink of exiting the competition. The return match at Craven Cottage will probably go down as the greatest performance in the history of the club as they overcame a 4-1 aggregate deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Since that momentous night they have brushed aside Wolfsburg and Hamburg to earn the right to a place in Wednesday’s final.
For Atletico, the match in Hamburg will be their first European final in 24 years so you can bet that they will be just as fired up as Fulham to get their hands on some silverware. In a way there is a similarity between the two teams in that both are struggling to emerge from the shadow of near-neighbours. In Fulham’s case it is of course their fellow West Londoners Chelsea and in the case of Athletico it is Real Madrid. Athletico have had to overcome Galatasaray, Sporting Lisbon, Valencia and Liverpool along the way in order to reach the final so they are clearly a force to be reckoned with in Cup competitions even though they are mid-table in the domestic league – another similarity they share with their opponents in the final.
So who will win the Trophy? According to online betting websites the odds on Atletico Madrid winning are 8/13 while the odds on a Fulham win are 6/5. This game has all the makings of a classic Cup Final and looks an enticing prospect for football betting fans, though many will already have an eye on the possibilities of World Cup football betting.
Hopefully the game on Wednesday will also go some way to silencing those who have claimed that the Champions League is the only European competition that matters.