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Hamburg showdown awaits Atlético and Fulham

Seeking a first European trophy since 1962, Club Atlético de Madrid will meet a Fulham FC side in their maiden continental showpiece as Hamburg hosts the inaugural UEFA Europa League final.

Atlético and Fulham are bidding to lift the UEFA Europa League trophy
Atlético and Fulham are bidding to lift the UEFA Europa League trophy ©Getty Images

The inaugural UEFA Europa League final matches Club Atlético de Madrid, chasing their first European title since the 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, against Fulham FC, who will be making their debut in a showpiece game at this level.

Final pedigree
• Atlético have reached the final of a major UEFA club competition on four previous occasions, enjoying just one triumph. That came in the 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup when they drew 1-1 with ACF Fiorentina in Glasgow before beating the Italian side 3-0 in a replay at the Neckarstadion in Stuttgart on 5 September 1962.

• Thus, Atlético won their only major European trophy on German soil.

• They also reached the 1962/63 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, but – in their only previous final meeting with an English side – lost 5-1 to Tottenham Hotspur FC at De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam.

• Atlético came within seconds of winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup on 15 May 1974, going 1-0 up after 114 minutes against FC Bayern München at the Heysel stadium in Brussels, with future Spain coach Luis Aragonés the scorer. The Bavarian side nonetheless drew level in the final minute courtesy of Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck's long-range drive.

• They lost the tie on a replay, going down 4-0 at the same stadium two days later. However, since Bayern declined to play, Atlético went onto successfully represent Europe in the European/South American Cup.

• Los Rojiblancos' last final appearance came in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon, where they lost 3-0 to FC Dynamo Kyiv.

• Overall, their record in six major UEFA showpiece matches reads W1 D2 L3 (not including the European/South American Cup), scoring six goals and conceding 14 in those games.

• In addition to those four finals, Atlético beat CA Independiente 2-1 on aggregate in the 1974 European/South American Cup final (actually played in 1975) and losing out to Villarreal CF on penalties after trading 2-0 wins in one of the 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup finals

• Fulham have never appeared in a major UEFA final, though they were among the winners in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup, beating Bologna FC 3-1 at home following a 2-2 draw in Italy. None of the current squad played in those games, while the man in the dugout at the time was Jean Tigana.

• Current Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has been involved in one major European final before, with his FC Internazionale Milano side losing the 1996/97 UEFA Cup showpiece 4-1 on penalties at San Siro after trading 1-0 home wins with FC Schalke 04.

• Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer played for Middlesbrough FC in the final of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup, which his side lost 4-0 to Atlético's Liga rivals Sevilla FC.

• Danny Murphy is the only Fulham player to have won a UEFA Cup final, having been on the victorious side with Liverpool FC in the 2000/01 edition. The Reds beat Spanish side Deportivo Alavés 5-4 thanks to an extra-time golden goal at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund.

• Thus, his only previous UEFA club competition final against a Spanish side in Germany ended in victory.

• José Antonio Reyes is the only Atlético player to have appeared in a major European showpiece, having come on as a substitute in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League final as Arsenal FC lost 2-1 to FC Barcelona.

Previous meetings
• The two teams will be meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition, while Fulham have never before encountered Spanish opposition.

• Following their semi-final success against Liverpool, Atlético have now played 19 games against English clubs, with their record reading W6 D8 L5.

Match background
• The final will be Atlético's 75th UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League outing and Fulham's 25th. Atlético have disputed 211 UEFA club competition games to Fulham's 32.

• Fulham are on familiar territory as they return to the Hamburg Arena, having drawn 0-0 with Hamburger SV in the first leg of their 2-1 aggregate semi-final success earlier this season. However, in that stalemate they failed to register a single shot on goal.

• Atlético have contested one previous game in Hamburg as well, losing 3-0 to HSV in a 1976/77 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semi-final decider at the old Volksparkstadion, which stood on the same site as the Hamburg Arena.

• Atlético midfielder Paulo Assunção featured in a 3-1 triumph for FC Porto away against HSV in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Atlético's Czech defender Tomáš Ujfaluši knows the stadium well after turning out for Hamburg from 2001 to 2004, helping the club lift the 2002/03 German League Cup.

• Fulham are now unbeaten in their last five European games since a 3-1 loss at Juventus in their round of 16 first leg.

• The London side will be competing on German soil for the third successive round after meeting VfL Wolfsburg and HSV in the quarter and semi-finals respectively; away from home, they beat the 2008/09 Bundesliga champions 1-0 before drawing 0-0 with Hamburg.

• Prior to this season, Fulham's only trip to Germany had ended in a 2-1 loss at Hertha BSC Berlin in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup third round.

• The final will be Fulham's 19th game since they started their UEFA Europa League campaign in the third qualifying round. Their record in 18 European fixtures this season reads W11 D4 L3, scoring 30 goals and conceding 16.

• Wednesday's showpiece will be Atlético's 17th European fixture since their campaign began in the UEFA Champions League play-off round. Their 16 games thus far have given them the tally W4 D8 L4, scoring 17 goals and conceding 22.

• Atlético have won only two European matches since the start of the UEFA Champions League group stage. They triumphed 2-1 at Galatasaray AŞ to get through the UEFA Europa League round of 32, and then defeated Liverpool 1-0 at home in their semi-final first leg.

• Atlético have contested 13 games on German soil, with their record reading W4 D2 L7. In their last competitive trip to Germany, Los Colchoneros lost 1-0 at Schalke in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

• One of Fulham's most fondly remembered former managers, Kevin Keegan, was a star at HSV from 1977 to 1980. European Footballer of the Year in 1978 and 1979, he won the 1978/79 German title and was a runner-up in the 1977 UEFA Super Cup and 1979/80 European Champion Clubs' Cup.

Team facts
• This will be Atlético coach Quique Sánchez Flores's seventh encounter with a Premier League side. His record in six fixtures against English opposition in charge of Atlético and, before that, Valencia CF reads W1 D2 L3.

• Quique Flores also came up against Fulham's reserve goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler during his playing career, with his Real Madrid CF side winning 2-0 against the Swiss custodian's Grasshopper-Club in a 1995/96 UEFA Champions League group-stage game.

• Despite his long experience in Europe, Fulham boss Hodgson has only overseen two games against Spanish opponents, with his Neuchâtel Xamax FC side going down 4-1 on aggregate against Real Madrid in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup third round.

• Having scored the winner in Fulham's semi-final, Zoltán Gera will look to be the first Hungarian player to star in a major European showpiece since FC Videoton lost to Real Madrid in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup final. Krisztián Lisztes was an unused substitute for VfB Stuttgart in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, while Ákos Buzsáky contested one game – not the final – for the Porto side that went on to lift the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.

• If he plays, Fulham's Clint Dempsey will become the first player from the United States to feature in a major European final, though Californian-born forward Jovan Kirovski did make a brief appearance for BV Borussia Dortmund in their 2-0 European/South American Cup win against EC Cruzeiro in 1997.

• No members of the Fulham squad have played league football in Spain, but two members of the Atlético selection boast Premier League experience: José Antonio Reyes and Diego Forlán.

• Reyes played for Arsenal from 2004 to 2006, moving on loan to Real Madrid before joining Atlético in 2007. During his time in London, he featured in four games against Fulham, winning all of them and scoring twice.

• Forlán represented Manchester United FC from 2002 until his move to Villarreal in 2004; he then signed for Atlético in 2007. He appeared in three games against Fulham, two of those ending in draws and the other producing a 3-1 home defeat in which he struck United's goal.

• Werder Bremen's Claudio Pizarro and SL Benfica's Óscar Cardozo look set to end the season as the UEFA Europa League's joint top scorers with nine goals each.

• Fulham's top marksmen, Bobby Zamora and Gera, have registered six apiece, while Atlético's highest UEFA Europa League scorer is Forlán with four goals.

• Sergio Agüero has also scored four goals for Atlético in Europe this term (not including qualifying), plundering two in the UEFA Champions League and two in the UEFA Europa League.

• Zamora has committed more fouls (43) than any other player in the UEFA Europa League this season, while he and Panathinaikos FC's Djibril Cissé have been ruled offside 27 times, putting them joint top of that particular list in the competition.

• Gera is second only to Zamora in terms of fouls committed (27), but he has also been fouled 26 times – the fifth-highest total in the competition.

• Atlético only entered the UEFA Europa League in the round of 32, but Reyes has been fouled 29 times since then, leaving him third in the most-fouled list behind Hamburg's David Jarolím (31) and Panathinaikos's Giorgos Karagounis (33).

• Raúl García, Assunção, Simão, Forlán and José Manuel Jurado have featured in all eight of Atlético's matches since the start of the UEFA Europa League knockout phase.

• No Fulham player has featured in all 14 of their games since the start of the group stage but Schwarzer, Gera and Zamora have all made 13 appearances, with the goalkeeper playing every minute.

• Atlético have lost all three of their UEFA club competition penalty shoot-outs to date; 7-6 at home to Derby County FC in the 1974/75 UEFA Cup, 3-1 at Fiorentina in the 1989/90 UEFA Cup and 3-1 at home against Villarreal in a 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup final.

• Fulham have never been involved in a European penalty shoot-out.

Final lowdown
• This is the first UEFA Europa League final and the first one-off UEFA club competition final to be staged at the Hamburg Arena.

• The Volksparkstadion – predecessor to the Hamburg Arena – hosted three matches at the 1974 World Cup, culminating in a Group A decider, the only meeting between hosts the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, which the latter won 1-0 thanks to a 77th-minute goal from Jürgen Sparwasser.

• Prior to this UEFA Europa League final, the Hamburg Arena's last major event – barring HSV games – was the 2006 World Cup. Five matches from that tournament were held at the stadium, culminating in eventual winners Italy's 3-0 quarter-final success against Ukraine.

• The first games of the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League first qualifying round took place on 2 July 2009.

• The first goal of the group stage was struck by Genoa CFC's Alberto Zapater, four minutes into their meeting with SK Slavia Praha on 17 September 2009.

• 544 goals have been registered since the start of the group stage – an average of 2.67 per game.

• English clubs won six editions of the UEFA Cup, the new competition's predecessor, while there were five Spanish winners.

• English and Spanish teams met in two UEFA Cup finals with differing results:
2000/01: Liverpool FC 5-4 Deportivo Alavés (aet)
2005/06: Sevilla FC 4-0 Middlesbrough FC

• There have been three European Champion Clubs' Cup/UEFA Champions League finals between Liga and Premier League sides with the following outcomes:
1980/81: Liverpool FC 1-0 Real Madrid CF
2005/06: FC Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal FC
2008/09: FC Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United FC

• There were also five UEFA Cup Winners' Cup finals between teams from the countries, with the English outfits winning three to Spain's two:
1962/63: Tottenham Hotspur FC 5-1 Club Atlético de Madrid
1970/71: Chelsea FC 1-1, 2-1 Real Madrid CF (tie settled on a replay)
1979/80: Valencia CF 0-0 Arsenal FC (Valencia won 5-4 on penalties)
1990/91: Manchester United FC 2-1 FC Barcelona
1994/95: Real Zaragoza 2-1 Arsenal FC

• In total, the ten major UEFA club competition finals between sides from the two nations have produced five wins apiece.

• Hodgson will look to become the first English manager to win a major European final since the late Sir Bobby Robson – who started his playing and managerial careers at Fulham – led Barcelona to a 1-0 win against Paris Saint-Germain FC in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final.

• Howard Kendall is the last English coach to have won a major European final with an English team, when he led Everton to the 1984/85 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.