Preview: Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao
The Spanish rivals meet in Bucharest to decide who will be crowned 2012 UEFA Europa League champions.
With the same home colours and similar names, there will be no need for introductions when Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao meet in the all-Spanish UEFA Europa League final in Bucharest.
Atlético come into the final on an 11-game UEFA Europa League winning streak (including five victories on their travels), since losing 2-0 at Udinese Calcio in the group stage. The final will be Atlético's 100th game in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League.
Atlético have scored more goals in this season's competition than any other side, 30, with Athletic second in that ranking with 28 in their 14 fixtures since the start of the group stage.
Atlético's Falcao is level with Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar at the top of the UEFA Europa League top scorers' table with ten goals. The Colombia striker set a record in 2010/11 with 17 goals in Porto's triumphant campaign. No player has ended up as top scorer in successive editions of this competition before. Atlético also boast the next highest scorer in the competition in eight-goal Adrián López, with Athletic's leading marksman Fernando Llorente one strike behind him on seven.
Adrián and Falcao are the only players to have featured in all 14 of Atlético's games since the start of the group stage, starting 12 each. Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is on loan from UEFA Champions League finalists Chelsea, is the only Atlético player to have made more starts, 13.
This will be the ninth UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League final to be contested between sides from the same association, with the most recent being last year's decider in Dublin.
Whoever wins this game will chalk up Spain's seventh success in this competition, and the fifth in the last nine editions. Only Italy boasts more triumphs, nine. Atlético are appearing in their eighth major UEFA final (including the 2010 UEFA Super Cup and 1975 European/South American Cup). Their first appearance resulted in 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup success after a replay against Fiorentina in Stuttgart, while they also won the inaugural UEFA Europa League in 2009/10, where Quique Sánchez Flores's side beat Fulham in Hamburg.
Athletic's only previous European final brought defeat on away goals by Juventus in the two-legged 1977 UEFA Cup decider.