It will be the first time that Atlético and Arsenal meet in European competition as the two former UEFA Champions League finalists clash in the semi finals of the 2017/18 Europa League.
The other tie by Eric Abidal , ambassador of the final and innocent hand draw, will measure Olympique de Marseille with Red Bull Salzburg with the return in Austria .
The Tale of Two Cities – Atletico Madrid vs London’s Arsenal
The Gunners were pitted against Diego Simeone’s side in Friday’s Europa League semi-final draw, providing Wenger with a significant test in his bid to convince the Gunners hierarchy that he remains the right man to lead the club.
Simeone has guided Atletico to two of the past four Champions League finals and his team are favourites to win the Europa League in Lyon on May 16.
The Spaniards are third in the overall UEFA rankings for club competitions, behind only Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. At 11 points behind League leaders, Barcelona with seven games left in the league, Simeone will throw the rest in his fifth semi-continental in seven seasons at the club rojiblanco. Quique Sánchez Flores won the first Europa League in 2010 against Fulham and in 2012 he won the celebration of ‘ Cholo ‘ against Athletic . In the Champions League , two finals lost in 2014 and 2016 and a semifinal in 2017, always against Real Madrid as executioner. It will be an opportunity for legend striker Fernando Torres leave his home even more by the front door with his first European title as a mattress and also for Griezmann , tempted by Barcelona.
Wenger knows his 22-year reign at Arsenal is under serious threat after a poor domestic campaign, but winning a European trophy — and thus qualifying for the Champions League — could yet appease dissenting voices within the Emirates corridors of power.
Despite a promising seven-game unbeaten run, including six victories, Wenger’s position remains precarious with the winning sequence viewed as too little too late.
Indeed, even lifting the Europa League trophy may not be enough to convince Arsenal that he should see out the final 12 months of his contract.
The project of Zubizarreta dazzles the Vélodrome
In the other tie, Olympique de Marseille , which already in the quarter was the only French representative in the Euro-competitions after the setbacks of PSG in the Champions League and Lyon in the Europa League without being able to play this final at home, it goes like a shot. The exciting comeback against Leipzig (5-2 after the 1-0 first leg) by the Payet , Thauvin , Mitroglou , Ocampos and the young midfielder Maxime López , followed by Barça, was another joy for the project by Andoni Zubizarreta , who trusted Rudi Garcíato return to the elite. In France, tied with Lyon, he is fighting for third place in the 2018-19 Champions League . The Vélodrome will be a boiler in the semifinals as this Thursday against Leipzig .