Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is wary of the threat posed by Marseille’s Dimitri Payet but believes his team’s extra experience will count for something in Wednesday’s Europa League final.
“Experience is an important factor although it won’t completely influence the game,” said Simeone at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of the match in the French city of Lyon.
A strong Atletico side, with a formidable defence and an attack spearheaded by Antoine Griezmann, are the favourites, having won the Europa League twice in the last decade and also narrowly lost two Champions League finals to Real Madrid, in 2014 and 2016.
But Rudi Garcia’s Marseille has caught Simeone’s eye on their run to a first continental final in 14 years.
“They will have self-confidence, and we will need to impose our rhythm as the game goes on. We are similar teams and it will be quite a tense game,” he said.
Atletico’s defence is arguably the best in Europe — they have let in just 20 goals in La Liga this season — and Simeone’s side will need to stifle Payet to prevent Marseille from winning a second European trophy to follow their Champions League triumph of 1993.
“They are a dangerous side going forward and Payet will dictate the rhythm. Their coach has done a great job.”
Simeone’s sending-off in the first leg of the 2-1 semi-final triumph over Arsenal means he will be suspended for Wednesday’s game.
But while the Argentine will be forced to watch on from the stands, his fiery assistant, German “Mono” Burgos, will take charge of the team.
“It was the same thing against Arsenal when German was in charge of the side.