UEFA Europa League Final 2010
Atletico Madrid v Fulham
When Liverpool sagged to let Diego Forlan net and send Atletico Madrid into the Europa League final, it was a mini-victory for the competition. An Anglo-Spanish final sounds more, well, continental than a re-run of a Premier League game.
English clubs might flash the cash but we don’t want an all-any nation European final any more than a Chelsea v Man U Champions League final every season. Contrasting styles is what European cups should be about. A bit sad for ‘Pool, whose fans could have followed in the footsteps of the Beatles on the Reeperbahn of that great German port city.
Perhaps the Europa League is just a punch diluted so much it lacks the Togel Hongkong kick of the old UEFA Cup, as lukewarm as the lineup for the old Cup Winners’ Cup, a collection of Champions League rejects and former European greats like Marseille, Anderlecht, Benfica and Panathanaikos.
If we can forget the languorous saga of that 18-game odyssey the teams took to the final, the meagre winnings and overall feeling of second prize compared to the mighty Champions League, the meeting of big-ish Atletico and little Fulham has a lot to recommend it.
World Cup 2010 Referees and Assistants.
The 30 referees and their assistants for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa have been chosen. There are 4 referees and their assistants from Africa, 4 from CONCACAF, 6 from South America, 2 from Oceania, 4 from Asia and 10 from UEFA.
Joel Aguilar (El Salvador)
William Torres, Francisco Zumba
Khalil Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia)
Hassan Kamranifar (Iran), Saleh Mohamed Al Marzouqi (UAE)
Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay)
Ruiz Roa, Nicolas Yegros
Benito Archundia (Mexico)
Hector Vegara (Canada), Marvin Torrentera
Hector Baldassi (Argentina)
Ricardo Casas, Herman Maidana
Carlos Batres (Guatemala)
Leonel Leal (Costa Rica), Carlos Pastrana (Honduras)
Mohamed Benouza (Algeria)
Nasser Abdel Nabi (Egypt), Maamer Chabane
Olegario Benquerenca (Portugal)
Jose Manuel Silva Cardinal, Bertino Miranda
Massimo Bussaca (Switzerland)
Matthias Arnet, Francesco Buragina
Koman Coulibaly (Mali)
Redouane Achik (Morocco), Maniel Candido (Angola)
Jerome Damon (South Africa)
Celestin Ntagungira (Rwanda), Enock Molefe
Franck De Bleeckere (Belgium)
Peter Hermans, Walter Vromans
Martin Hansson (Sweden)
Henrik Andren, Stefan Wittberg
Michael Hester (New Zealand)
Jan-Hendrik Hintz, Tevita Makasini (Tonga)
Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
Rafael Ilyasov, Bahadyr Kochkarov (Kyrgyzstan)
Victor Kassai (Hungary)
Gabor Eros, Tibor Vamos
Stephane Lannoy (France)
Eric Dansault, Laurent Ugo
Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay)
Pablo Fandino, Maurico Espinosa
Eddy Maillet (Seychelles)
Evarist Menkouande (Cameroon), Bechir Hassani (Tunisia)
Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh (Malaysia)
Yuxin Mu (China), Jeffrey Gek Pheng (Singapore)
Yuichi Nishimura (Japan)
Toru Sagara, Jeong Hae-sang (South Korea)
Peter O’Leary (New Zealand)
Brent Best, Matthew Taro (Solomon Islands)
Marco Rodriguez (Mexico)
Jose Luis Camaego, Alberto Morin
Roberto Rosetti (Italy)
Paolo Calcagno, Stefano Ayroldi
Oscar Ruiz (Colombia)
Abraham Gonzalez, Humberto Clavijo
Carlos Eugenio Simon (Brazil)
Altemir Hausmann, Roberto Braatz
Wolfgang Stark (Germany)
Jan Salver, Mike Pickel
Alberto Undiano (Spain)
Fermin Martinez, Juan Carlos Yuste
Howard Webb (England)
Darren Cann, Michael Mullarkey
Not many column inches have been written about Atletico, whose European high point came in tying the 1974 European Cup Final with Bayern, before losing the replay. Their domestic hour of glory was the league and cup double of 1996, but the Spanish capital’s second club have struggled to break the Barca-Real log-jam since. Coach Quique Sanchez Flores, has only been in the job since October, but has hauled the Rojiblancos to the Copa del Rey final as well as this one.
But Roy Hodgson remains the real hero of the hour. He rather resembles an English coach of the ’30s or ’50s, having dragged his suitcase of coaching manuals around eight countries. Should Fabio Capello call it a day now, he would appear an inspired choice to replace him.
Into his seventh decade, Hodgson has distilled a simple football philosophy which has guided one of the Premier League’s poorer teams into a European final for the first time. Fulham, that cosy little club by the Thames no-one has a bad word to say about.
Like Odysseus, he has led his warriors on an odyssey through many trials, the last of which is tonight, before he can bring them home with their booty.
Possible lineups:Fulham – Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff, Gera, Zamora
Atletico – De Gea, Valera, Dominguez, Perea, Antonio Lopez, Reyes, Assuncao, Raul Garcia, Simao, Aguero, Forlan
(c) Sean O’Conor & Soccerphile