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Bucharest awaits all-Spanish decider

Published: Tuesday 1 May 2012, 13.11CET
The Spanish Liga rivals with the same home strip and similar names meet at the National Arena, Bucharest to decide who will be crowned 2012 UEFA Europa League champions.
Bucharest awaits all-Spanish decider
Atlético had to overcome another Spanish side in the semi-finals ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

AtléticoAthletic

Goals scored33
 
28
Attempts on target80
 
81
Attempts off target64
 
100
Corners86
 
96
Offsides38
 
37
Fouls committed276
 
219
Yellow cards32
 
39
Red cards1
 
1

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Standings

 
Published: Tuesday 1 May 2012, 13.11CET

Bucharest awaits all-Spanish decider

The Spanish Liga rivals with the same home strip and similar names meet at the National Arena, Bucharest to decide who will be crowned 2012 UEFA Europa League champions.

With the same home colours and similar names, there will be no need for introductions when Club Atlético de Madrid and Athletic Club meet in the all-Spanish UEFA Europa League final in Bucharest.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition.

• Atlético have had marginally the better of the sides' 150 domestic league meetings, with 64 wins to Athletic's 59.

• The clubs' first Liga encounter came in the inaugural Spanish championship campaign in 1929. By then they had already contested one Copa del Rey final, Athletic winning 4-1 in 1921. Athletic prevailed 2-1 when they next met in the showpiece in 1956, but it was Atlético's turn in their most recent showdown in 1985. Hugo Sánchez struck twice for Luis Aragonés's side before Julio Salinas pulled a goal back for Javier Clemente's Athletic in a final played at the Santiago Bernabéu.

• Atlético have played 11 UEFA games against other Spanish sides, including home and away victories against Valencia CF in this season's semi-finals. Their overall record is W5 D2 L4. Those results include the 1958/59 European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final against neighbours Real Madrid CF, which Atlético lost on a replay in Zaragoza after trading home wins.

• If you break those 11 games down into five ties, Atlético have won three and lost two.

• Athletic were victorious in their only previous tie against a fellow Spanish club in Europe, beating FC Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup quarter-finals. They face the Catalan side again in this season's Spanish Cup final on 25 May, at Atlético's Estadio Vicente Calderón.

• Athletic may have less European final experience but they share with Barcelona the record for second-most Copa del Rey final appearances – 35 ahead of the clubs' showdown in this season's final (Real Madrid have the most with 37, including 18 wins). The Basque club have won 23 editions of the Copa del Rey to Atlético's nine.

• Although Athletic lead 2-1 in Copa del Rey final meetings, there has been little between the sides in recent Liga encounters. Since the 1999/2000 season Atlético have posted ten victories to Athletic's nine from 22 matches.

• This term Athletic won their home Liga fixture 3-0 in October with the help of two Fernando Llorente goals, but a Falcao double consigned them to a 2-1 loss at the Vicente Calderón in March.

Match background
• Atlético come into the final on an 11-game UEFA Europa League winning streak (including five victories on their travels), since losing 2-0 at Udinese Calcio in the group stage.

• The final will be Atlético's 100th game in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League.

• Atlético have scored more goals in this season's competition than any other side, 30, with Athletic second in that ranking with 28 in their 14 fixtures since the start of the group stage.

• Both Atlético and Athletic's goals have been evenly divided between the two halves.

• This is the first final in this competition since the last all-Spanish decider in 2006/07 not to feature a team that had transferred into the round of 32 from the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Team facts
• Atlético's Falcao is level with FC Schalke 04's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar at the top of the UEFA Europa League top scorers' table with ten goals. The Colombia striker set a record in 2010/11 with 17 goals in FC Porto's triumphant campaign. No player has ended up as top scorer in successive editions of this competition before.

• Atlético also boast the next highest scorer in the competition in eight-goal Adrián López, with Athletic's leading marksman Fernando Llorente one strike behind him on seven.

• Adrián and Falcao are the only players to have featured in all 14 of Atlético's games since the start of the group stage, starting 12 each. Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is on loan from UEFA Champions League finalists Chelsea FC, is the only Atlético player to have made more starts, 13.

• Courtois has also played the most minutes of any Atlético player in this season's competition, 1,170, ahead of Falcao (1,125) and defender Diego Godín (1,080). Courtois will celebrate his 20th birthday on 11 May, two days after the final.

• Markel Susaeta, Iker Muniain and defender Andoni Iraola have played in all 14 of Athletic's games, starting 13 each, as have Llorente and goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

• Iraola leads the way in terms of competitive minutes with 1,188, just ahead of Iraizoz (1,170), Muniain (1,137) and Susaeta (1,126).

• Atlético's Diego tops the rankings in terms of UEFA Europa League assists, with six since the start of the group stage.

• Atlético midfielder Gabi and his Athletic counterpart Ander Herrera were team-mates at Real Zaragoza (2009–11).

• Athletic midfielder David López and Atlético winger Juanfran played together at CA Osasuna in the 2006/07 campaign.

The coaches
• Diego Simeone replaced Gregorio Manzano as Atlético coach on 23 December. The former Argentina midfielder had two spells at the club as a player, winning a domestic double in 1995/96. He lifted the 1997/98 UEFA Cup with FC Internazionale Milano and is coaching in Europe for a second time, having helped Calcio Catania avoid relegation from Serie A in 2010/11.

• Athletic's coach is former Argentina defender Marcelo Bielsa, who briefly led Espanyol in 1998 before taking charge of Argentina (1998–2004) and Chile (2007–11). This is his first season as a player or coach in UEFA club competition.

• The two men know each other well; Bielsa was Simeone's coach with Argentina between 1998 and 2002. Both were involved in Argentina's 2002 FIFA World Cup campaign, where they failed to progress beyond the group stage. Simeone made the last of his 106 international appearances under Bielsa in Sapporo, in a 1-0 defeat by England on 7 June.

• Both are in line to end their first season as coaches in UEFA club competition with a major European trophy, as André Villas-Boas did when he won last season's competition with FC Porto.

• They would also be the first Argentinian coaches to win the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League.

• Only three non-European coaches have won a major UEFA club competition, all of them Argentinian. Luis Carniglia led Real Madrid CF to victory in the 1958 and 1959 European Cup finals, while Helenio Herrera won the same competition with Inter in 1964 and 1965. Alfredo Di Stéfano – who represented Spain as well as Argentina at international level – won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Valencia in 1980.

• Simeone could also become only the third person to win the competition as a coach and a player; Dino Zoff won the 1976/77 edition as a goalkeeper with Juventus – beating Athletic in the final – and the 1989/90 edition as coach of the same club. Huub Stevens lifted the trophy in 1978 as a defender with PSV Eindhoven and then led FC Schalke 04 to success in 1997.

Final pedigree
• Whoever wins this game will chalk up Spain's seventh success in this competition, and the fifth in the last nine editions. Only Italy boasts more triumphs, nine.

• Atlético are appearing in their eighth major UEFA final (including the 2010 UEFA Super Cup and 1975 European/South American Cup). Their first appearance resulted in 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup success after a replay against ACF Fiorentina in Stuttgart, while they also won the inaugural UEFA Europa League in 2009/10, where Quique Sánchez Flores's side beat Fulham FC in Hamburg.

• Atlético's squad includes five players who featured in the 2010 UEFA Europa League final.

• The team for that game on 12 May 2010 was:
Atlético: De Gea, Antonio López*, Forlán, Raúl García, Agüero (Juan Valera 119), Paulo Assunção*, Ujfaluši, Álvaro Domínguez*, Reyes (Eduardo Salvio* 78), Simão (Jurado 68), Luis Perea*.
Unused substitutes: Joel*, Camacho, Juanito, Leandro Cabrera.

• They lost the 1973/74 European Champion Clubs' Cup final and the 1962/63 and 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup deciders.

• Falcao is also a former winner, having won the 2011/12 final with Porto.

• Atlético's Diego helped SV Werder Bremen reach the 2008/09 UEFA Cup final, but was suspended for the game as his side lost 2-1 to FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

• Athletic's only previous European final brought defeat on away goals by Juventus in the two-legged 1977 UEFA Cup decider.

• Goalkeeper Iraizoz is the only Athletic player to have featured in a major European final. He was in goal as RCD Espanyol lost the 2006/07 final to Sevilla FC on penalties.

• Another Athletic player, Aitor Ocio, was an unused substitute for Sevilla in both of their UEFA Cup final successes, in 2005/06 against Middlesbrough FC and against Espanyol the following season.

• Atlético's three previous games in Bucharest ended W1 D1 L1. Their record in six games in Romania reads W2 D1 L3, but they have not won in their last four visits.

• Athletic are playing in the Romanian capital for the first time. Their only previous game in Romania ended in a 1-0 defeat at CFR 1907 Cluj in the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup second round.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Neither club have won a penalty shoot-out in European competition.

• Atlético have lost all three of their UEFA club competition penalty shoot-outs to date; 7-6 at home to Derby County FC in the 1974/75 UEFA Cup, 3-1 at Fiorentina in the 1989/90 UEFA Cup and 3-1 at home against Liga rivals Villarreal CF in a 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup final.

• Athletic also lost their only UEFA penalty decider, 5-3 in Bilbao against Romanian side CFR 1907 Cluj in the second round of the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Travel
• Madrid and Bilbao are 323km apart, but much closer rivals met in last season's decider – Porto and Braga are just 47km apart.

• The two finalists faced a substantial journey to get to Bucharest – the Romanian capital is 2,321km from Bilbao and 2,475km from Madrid.

• Much longer journeys have been made to reach finals in this competition. Olympique de Marseille faced a 2,657km return after losing the 1999 UEFA Cup final in Moscow, while PFC CSKA Moskva travelled a record 3,911km to the 2005 final in Lisbon, where they beat host side Sporting Clube de Portugal – a mammoth round trip of 7,822km.

One-nation finals
• This will be the ninth UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League final to be contested between sides from the same association, with the most recent being last year's decider in Dublin.

1971/72 Tottenham Hotspur FC 3-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC (agg)
1979/80 VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-3 Eintracht Frankfurt (agg, Frankfurt win on away goals)
1989/90 Juventus 3-1 ACF Fiorentina (agg)
1990/91 FC Internazionale Milano 2-1 AS Roma (agg)
1994/95 Parma FC 2-1 Juventus (agg)
1997/98 FC Internazionale Milano 3-0 S.S. Lazio
2006/07 Sevilla FC 2-2 RCD Espanyol (Sevilla win 3-1 on penalties)
2010/11 FC Porto 1-0 SC Braga

• In addition, three UEFA Champions League deciders were contested by domestic rivals.

1999/2000 Real Madrid CF 3-0 Valencia CF
2002/03 AC Milan 0-0 Juventus (Milan win 3-2 on penalties)
2007/08 Manchester United FC 1-1 Chelsea FC (United win 6-5 on penalties)

WEEKEND UPDATE
Saturday 5 May: Atlético 2-1 Málaga CF
(Eliseu 38, Koke 69, Adrián 79)
Courtois, Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe Luis, Mario Suárez (Koke 57), Tiago, Salvio (Domínguez 90), Diego (Turan 84), Adrián López, Falcao.

• Shorn of the suspended Gabi, Atlético kept alive their hopes of a UEFA Champions League place going into the final day of the season after overturning a first half deficit against fourth-placed Málaga thanks to a second half goal from substitute Koke and Adrián’s seventh league strike of the campaign.

• Diego Simeone's side are now fifth in the standings, two points behind Málaga and visit Villarreal CF in next weekend’s season finale.

• Atlético are six points better off in the Liga than they were at the same stage two years ago, when they won the Europa League.

• Luis Perea (adductor) and Sílvio (knee) are out of action, and captain Antonio López has yet to feature for Atlético this year, with calf, hamstring and knee injuries limiting the 30-year-old to just seven appearances in all competitions this season.

• Antonio López and Perea were honoured by Atlético prior to the Málaga game, the club’s last home fixture of the season. Both players – who together have amassed 586 appearances in all competitions for Los Rojiblancos – received the 'Insignia of Gold and Diamonds,' the highest distinction the club can bestow.

Saturday 5 May: Athletic 0-0 Getafe CF
Raúl Fernández, Ramalho (Iraola 46), Ekiza, San José, Aurtenetxe (Susaeta 46), Ander, Iñigo Pérez, David López (Iturraspe 46), Ibai Gómez, Gabilondo, Toquero.

• Athletic Club coach Marcelo Bielsa rested goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz, Óscar de Marcos and Fernando Llorente for the team's final home game of the season. Javi Martínez also missed out through suspension while Fernando Amorebieta (calf) and Iker Muniain (pelvis) continued their recoveries from injury.

• Los Leones have won just three of their eleven Liga games since eliminating Manchester United FC in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 in March.

• With one game to go in the Liga, Athletic are in ninth position on 49 points with 49 goals scored and 49 conceded.

• A FIFA World Cup winner with Spain, forward Fernando Llorente is Athletic's Liga top scorer with 17 goals. The 27-year-old finished with 18 last season but played seven games more than he has so far this term.

• Carlos Gurpegi has failed to feature for Athletic since undergoing surgery to repair the torn cruciate ligament in his left knee in October although the midfielder was back in the match squad at the weekend.

Last updated: 08/05/12 9.27CET

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