The organisers of the much-maligned Europa League have a final they can be proud of with two of the biggest clubs in Spain set for a battle in Bucharest.
Athletic Bilbao have illuminated this competition with their exciting brand of free-flowing football and their eye-catching victories home and away against Manchester United saw them elevated to favourites in many people’s eyes to lift the trophy.
They do not retain that status for the final, however, priced as they are at 37/20 to record a win inside 90 minutes.
Atletico Madrid spent more money than any other club in Spain last summer and have assembled one of the most talented squads to grace the Vicente Calderon in recent memory.
Though it took them some time to gel, since Diego Simeone arrived as manager in January, the team have been difficult to beat and going into the final round of matches in the Primera Division they still have a chance of finishing in the top four.
The fact that domestically they lie five places and four points ahead of Athletic means Atletico Madrid are priced as favourites to win in normal time at 27/20, with the draw available at a market-leading 12/5.
At the heart of every successful team there is more often that not a successful striker and Athletic and Atletico are no different.
The price of 87/100 for more than 2.5 goals looks extremely generous. It is a bet that has paid out in five of Atletico’s last six Europa League matches and in all of Bilbao’s last six games in the competition.
In Fernando Llorente and Radamel Falcao respectively, they possess two of the most feared and coveted forwards in world football.
Llorente has once again shown himself to be a towering colossus of a striker, brutal in the air with a devastating shot, and has 24 goals for the Basques in all competitions this season, including seven in the Europa League.
Falcao, meantime, has notched a stunning 33 goals for Atletico in his first season in Spanish football, with his superb movement and natural finishing proving a winning combination.
With two such in-form strikers on display it is tempting to back goals in the game and the price of 87/100 for more than 2.5 goals looks extremely generous.
It is a bet that has paid out in five of Atletico’s last six Europa League matches and in all of Bilbao’s last six games in the competition.
Staying on the theme of goals, the prices for the teams to score over 1.5 goals each look generous.
The side from Madrid are priced at 6/5 to score at least two goals – a bet that has paid out in five of their last Europa League matches – while Atheltic are offered at 29/20 to score over 1.5 goals and given that they have achieved this in each of their last six Europa League games, that looks like offering value.
If you think 90 minutes will not be enough to separate the sides, Athletic are available at 19/20 to win the trophy by any means necessary, with Atletico priced up at 4/5.
Punters looking for long shots can also back the Basques to prevail in extra-time at 21/2 or the same price on penalties, while each of these eventualities in Atletico’s favour are pegged at 10/1.
Over 2.5 goals in the game @ 87/100
Athletic to score two or more goals @ 29/20
Atletico Madrid to score two or more goals @ 6/5
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