Why isn’t anybody talking about Spain’s chances at the World Cup this summer?
This, the side that thrashed Argentina 6-0. This, too, is the country whose club has won the Champions League in each of the past two seasons. And on Thursday night, this was the country that claimed an eighth winner of the Europa League in the last decade.
Atletico Madrid were a class above Marseille at Parc OL with Diego Simeone prowling in the director’s box as his players secured the sixth major trophy of his tenure.
In a game that felt entirely mismatched, here are five things we learned.
1 Yet another clean sheet for stingy Spaniards
In 53% of his games as Atletico boss, Diego Simeone has watched his players secure a clean sheet.
It is a quite astonishing record, one that has been achieved because of his relentless organisational and motivational skills.
Just as they did against Arsenal in the semi-final, Marseille were kept sniffily at arm's length, unable to find a way past the Herculean Diego Godín and Jan Oblak.
The style of play might not be illuminating but it is certainly effective.
2 Anguissa anguish
With a stadium packed full of white and azure, it was important for Marseille to get off on the right foot.
Andre-Frank Anguissa, however, didn’t read the script.
Whilst Mandanda’s pass to his feet might have been ill-conceived, the Cameroonian’s failure to control the ball allowed Griezmann to nip in for the opener.
Rudi Garcia’s side never truly recovered.
3 Griezmann double is a perfect goodbye
Should he complete a long-mooted transfer to Barcelona this summer, Antoine Griezmann provided Colchoneros fans with a fitting goodbye.
It was his two goals that had this fixture decided, long before Gabi popped up with a late drill into Steve Mandanda’s net.
Physically, the French forward shouldn’t be a success at elite level. He is petite and whimsical.
However, he was frequently a joy to behold on Wednesday night, offering real and continuous threat before and after his two clinical goals.
4 Luis Gust-haves a nightmare
On the biggest night of his Marseille career, Luis Gustavo had a shocker.
The former Bayern man is a reference point for Marseille, with a stellar career in the Bundesliga behind him as well as a hatful of international caps for Brazil.
Too often in this game, he was anonymous as Koke and Saúl drifted beyond him to lay waste to L’OM’s defenders.
He wasn’t alone in this abject performance – Valere Germain and Clinton N’jie endured a difficult time of it too – but more was expected from the 30-year-old in Marseille’s first European final for over a decade.
5 Scintillating Simeone delivering his last trophy?
It’s easy to forget just how much of a basket case Atletico Madrid were before Diego Simeone.
Ponderous under Javi Aguirre, the Argentine was handed the reins of a side that hadn’t won La Liga since 1996.
His transformation is not just remarkable because of its immediacy but because of its longevity too.
Simeone’s ability to command his players and have them swear fealty to the club cause is something that feels anathema within the wan world of modern football.
Miraculously, however, he managed to convince his teams time and time again.
The question remains, however, whether he would be able to perform such miracles outside of the Spanish capital.
Simeone likes to hark back to Madrid’s gritty working-class roots, whilst cholismo is a never-ending well.
Could he do it on a pleasant Wednesday evening in North London? Will we ever know?
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