“If you want to be the best, you gotta beat the best”. It’s one of the sportsiest sportsball cliches in the world. But it’s true - generally speaking, the business end of any tournament contains only the best teams, and if you want to win the tournament, you have to beat them.
After feasting on relative minnows in the group stage, and so far doing well in the knockouts, Arsenal face arguably their first real test of the Europa League thus far today, as they kick off the first leg of their semifinal against Atletico Madrid, who started the season in the Champions League but fell into this competition after the group stages.
Atletico are no joke - as Wenger said, they “have no weaknesses”. If there’s one area Arsenal may be able to exploit, it’s their lack of depth - they only have 18 senior players right now, and a lot of players have all each played 3,500 minutes or more this year. That’s a lot. So if Arsenal can go at them with a ton of energy and keep that energy high all game, they might be able to wear Atleti out and tire them into making mistakes.
This is what we’ve wanted all season - a chance at a European final. 180 minutes from now does not define Arsenal’s season, but a positive result will definitely improve it.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Atlético Madrid
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Thursday, April 26th 2018 12:05 PM PT | 3:05 PM ET | 8:05 PM BT
US TV: Fox Sports. Streaming on Fox Sports GO and WatchESPN.
NON-US BROADCAST/STREAM: check livesoccer.tv for all your international streaming needs. Do not discuss links to illegal streams here.