Marseille wary of Griezmann danger in Europa final
Keeping Antoine Griezmann in check could make all the difference in Wednesday's UEFA Europa League final, the Atletico Madrid striker's France team-mates, Olympique de Marseille pair Dimitri Payet and Steve Mandanda have said.
Wednesday, 16 May, 2018
UEFA Europa League final
Groupama Stadium, Lyon
Olympique de Marseille - Atletico de Madrid
Griezmann has four goals in seven matches in the competition this season, and will be — along with Diego Costa — the focal point of the Atletico attack as the Spanish side seek to complete a hat-trick of wins following their triumphs in the 2010 and 2012 competitions.
Having featured alongside the former Real Sociedad striker, who was born just 60km from the final venue in Lyon, for their country, Payet and Mandanda are fully aware of the danger he poses.
"Grizou, he's the plus factor in this Atletico team. He can turn the game at any moment of the match. We mustn't take our eyes off him for a second," said Payet, who is hoping to feature alongside the Atleti man at this summer's World Cup.
"Griezmann is one of the best attackers in the world and he's capable of anything," Mandanda added. "But there's also Diego Costa, Kevin [Gameiro] and Fernando Torres, who could come on at some point. It is going to be difficult."
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Payet has shaken off a thigh injury that kept him out of last Friday's Week 37 draw with En Avant Guingamp, while Bouna Sarr, who dislocated a shoulder in the match, should also be fit, coach Rudi Garcia said.
The former LOSC Lille boss expects striker Kostas Mitroglou (hamstring) and Rolando (calf) to also be available as Marseille seek to add a second European trophy to their list of honours after the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League.
"This year, we're celebrating the 25th anniversary of the only French club to win the Champions League. We have had a love affair with the European cups since the 1990s. We all want to follow in the footsteps of our predecessors. It'll be a very difficult mission," explained Garcia, who has done his homework.
"They are very solid and have the best defensive record in Spain but they are dangerous in attack too. If we have similarities to them then it's because we're both full of character. We are full of respect for Atlético, a great Spanish club. They have more experience than us, but it's good for us that it'll be decided over one match, that means anything is possible."
Marseille: Mandanda; Sakai, Rami, Luiz Gustavo, Amavi; Anguissa, Sanson; Thauvin, Payet, Ocampos; Germain
Atletico: Oblak; Vrsaljko, Giménez, Godín, Lucas; Koke, Saúl Ñíguez, Gabi, Correa; Griezmann, Costa