The 2018 UEFA Europa League Final witnessed an electrifying showdown between French contenders Marseille and Spanish powerhouse Atlético Madrid at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Décines-Charpieu, Lyon, France on May 16, 2018. In a commanding performance, Atlético Madrid emerged triumphant with a resounding 3-0 victory, securing their third Europa League title and further solidifying their status as a dominant force in European football.
As the victors of the final, Atlético Madrid earned the coveted opportunity to face off against the winners of the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid, in the 2018 UEFA Super Cup. Moreover, their stellar performance secured their place in the group stage of the 2018–19 UEFA Champions League, although their qualification through league performance resulted in the transfer of the reserved berth to the third-placed team of the 2017–18 Ligue 1, Lyon, as Ligue 1 stood as the 5th-ranked association according to the next season’s access list.
The decision to host the final at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais was announced on December 9, 2016, following the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Nyon, Switzerland.
Marseille’s journey to the final marked their third appearance in the pinnacle event, having secured a hard-fought 3-2 aggregate victory against Austrian contenders Red Bull Salzburg in an intense match that culminated after extra time. However, despite their remarkable efforts, Marseille had previously suffered defeats in both of their previous finals in 1999 and 2004. This final appearance further added to their notable record of five finals across all seasonal UEFA competitions, which included two European Cup/Champions League finals, with a victory in 1993 and a loss in 1991.
Meanwhile, Atlético Madrid demonstrated their formidable prowess, securing their third final appearance after claiming a well-deserved 2-1 aggregate victory against English side Arsenal. Their past successes in the 2010 and 2012 Europa League finals further bolstered their formidable reputation. Their journey to the final also reflected their remarkable track record, which encompassed a total of nine final appearances in various UEFA seasonal competitions, including three European Cup/Champions League finals, with losses in 1974, 2014, and 2016, as well as three Cup Winners’ Cup final appearances, with a victory in 1962 and losses in 1963 and 1986.
The 2018 final encounter marked the third meeting between Marseille and Atlético Madrid, with the Spanish team securing a win in their first encounter and a draw in the 2008–09 UEFA Champions League group stage.
The final itself witnessed a scintillating display of skill and determination from Atlético Madrid. In the 21st minute, Antoine Griezmann’s masterful finish from a Gabi pass put Atlético in the lead. Marseille captain Dimitri Payet’s unfortunate departure from the match due to injury in the 32nd minute further complicated matters for the French side. Griezmann doubled Atlético’s lead in the 49th minute with a clinical finish, expertly guided past the advancing Steve Mandanda. Gabi’s confident strike in the 89th minute, courtesy of another precise pass from Koke, secured a comprehensive 3-0 victory for Atlético Madrid, highlighting their superior form and tactical brilliance on the grand stage.
The 2018 UEFA Europa League Final not only epitomized the relentless pursuit of excellence and sportsmanship in European football but also underscored the rich heritage and enduring legacy of the competition. Atlético Madrid’s dominant performance exemplified their unwavering commitment to achieving greatness, further solidifying their status as one of the most formidable teams in the history of European football.