Fulham vs Atletico Madrid

Forget the fact that Liverpool failed to finish in the top four for the first time since 2005. Forget the fact that Michael Owen joined ex-rivals Manchster United at the beginning of the season. The real surprise of the 2009/10 season has been Fulham FC’s European form. Somehow manager Roy Hodgson has carved his way through the likes of Juventus and Wolfsburg to leave Fulham facing the biggest game in their history.

Fulham’s European dream began almost a year ago on July 30 2009. No doubt fans at the time will have expected a swift exit from the competition, but, 11 months on, they face something they may have never dreamed of witnessing, their side in a European final. They scored an impressive nine goals over four qualifying legs, conceding only two to put them through to the group stages where they faced daunting opposition in the likes of Basle and Roma, but managed to finish second behind Roma, which set up the near ‘impossible’ task of beating last year’s holders ‘Shakhtar Donetsk, beating them 2-1 at home, and grinding out a 1-1 draw away from home.

When they were placed up against Italian giants Juventus, Fans must have seen the dream ending, especially after losing the first leg away from home 3-1. Things got worse after conceding almost instantly in the return leg, but they battled back to win 4-1. This gave fans the belief that their side could go out and beat anyone on their day, and they did jsut that, beating German outfits Wolfsburg and then Hamburg to set up this historic final.

No doubt Atletico Madrid will be keeping a close eye on Zamora’s fitness, but they will want to concentrate more on their own strikers form. Diego Forlan is top scorer for them on four goals, and youngster Sergio Aguero trails him on two goals. Lower tally’s than Fulhams strikers, but lets not forget many of Fulhams goals have been scored in the qualification stages, of which Atletico did not take part. Their league form, just like Fulham’s has suffered slightly this year, as they sit mid-table in La Liga, but their cup form cannot be ignored. They scraped past Valencia on away goals, before brilliantly beating Liverpool, again on away form. With all the hype surrounding Fulham’s giantkilling ability, it would be dangerous to ignore the size of the teams that Atletico have beaten.

With league positions average for both sides, their season’s will rest on the result of this match, which is destined to be extremely tight. Don’t expect a goal fest, but it’s likely to be a fiery encounter. Can Roy Hodgson end his fairytale with a cup triumph? Will Aguero seal his final day in Atletico outfit with a victory? May the best team win.

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