Atletico Madrid and Olympique Marseille will go head to head in Lyon on Wednesday night in the Europa League final.
Atletico are heavy favourites given their strong record in European competition over the last few years, the Spaniards having won the competition in 2012 and 2010, while twice finishing as runners-up in the Champions League in 2014 and 2016.
Marseille, meanwhile, are aiming for Euro glory on the 25th anniversary of their Champions League triumph. They have appeared in European finals twice since those heady days in 1992, losing in the UEFA Cup final in 1999 and 2004.
Diego Simeone and Rudi Garcia are the men tasked with leading their sides to glory. FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the brains behind both finalists.
Rudi Garcia (Marseille)
Frenchman Garcia has a decent record in management, having led his former club Lille to a league and cup double in 2011, while he also finished runner-up in Serie A with Roma in 2014 and 2015.
His position was under threat earlier this season after heavy losses to Monaco and Rennes, but he managed to turn things around after holding a crisis meeting with the players. Eight months later and Marseille once again stand on the verge of European glory.
Key to their success has been the switch from a 4-3-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1.
The transition has allowed playmaker Dimitri Payet (13 assists in Ligue 1) to shine, while winger Florian Thauvin has also come of age. The former Newcastle flop has been in stunning form under Garcia, netting 26 goals and providing 17 assists in all competitions.
Their form has left Garcia hopeful Marseille can celebrate their Euro anniversary in style by making more history.
“This year we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of being the first French side to win the Champions League. Now we have a fantastic chance to become the first to win the Europa League.”
He knows however, that it won’t be easy.
“We know experience is on their side. They came into the competition from the Champions League and we came through the Europa League playoffs.
“We have more young players who aren’t used to these big occasions. It’s better to stay calm and not to play the match in our heads ahead of time.
“Maybe our salvation…. will be that everything comes down to one match. It’s been shown before that anything’s possible.”
Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid)
Appearing in a European final is nothing new for the Argentine considering his success with Atleti since taking the reins in 2011, although he will experience Wednesday’s final in a new way as a result of his touchline ban following his sending off during the semi-final first leg draw at Arsenal.
Imposing assistant coach German ‘Mono’ Burgos will take Simeone’s place on the touchline in Lyon. Speaking of Burgos after Atleti’s semi-final win, Simeone said: “The best thing about our relationship is loyalty, something rare in football, and when you add to that his ability, it explains why things have gone so well for us.”
Loyalty is also something that Simeone will be hoping for from striker Antoine Griezmann, who has been linked with a move to Barcelona in the summer. Griezmann and Diego Costa will form an experienced attack that Simeone will hope can wreak havoc among the Marseille backline and deliver a trophy as a parting gift, if he is indeed to leave.
Still, the 48-year old coach says that his team cannot rely solely on experience against
“Experience is a little thing that can help but it’s not going to have too much influence.
“We’ll be excited, up for it, but also tense. We need to take the game where we want it and do damage where we can.”