Europa League Diary: Garcia reveals his sweet tooth, Mandanda a fanzone attraction

By Sports Desk May 16, 2018

Nerves are natural ahead of a major European final, but neither Atletico Madrid nor Marseille showed much in the way of apprehension ahead of Wednesday's showpiece in Lyon. 

The Europa League probably means more to Marseille, as it provides them with a direct route into the Champions League, which Atletico have already secured a place in for next season courtesy of their position in LaLiga.

But both camps were predominantly smiling and joking as they faced the media on Tuesday, with Lyon a hive of activity on Wednesday as fans took in the sights before the serious stuff gets going.

 

CHOCOLATE THE KEY FOR GARCIA

The locals say that if you skip lunch, you're not from Lyon, and food has a particular importance for Marseille coach Rudi Garcia.

Asked at a media conference on Tuesday what is the key to him avoiding stress, Garcia said: "Dark chocolate, 70 per cent."

Only the best for the boss, clearly.

YOUR FACE HERE

Place Bellecour is the venue for UEFA's Europa League village and there is plenty to amuse supporters in the hours leading up to kick-off.

There's a stage for live music, various challenges, including one involving shooting at a huge dartboard, and a giant replica of the trophy.

Fans can even slot their face into a photo of their favourite team, and who could pass up the opportunity to be side by side - sort of - with Steve Mandanda.

A RISKY PURCHASE?

You won't find Marseille fans frequenting Lyon's official store, but Atletico supporters welcomed the opportunity to add the jersey of Les Gones to their collection at the club's shop just off Place Bellecour.

Nabil Fekir's name and number were plastered on the back of the new home kit on display, but purchasing the playmaker's jersey may be risky, given rumours of a move to Liverpool.

But even if Fekir does depart, at least Lyon fans have some club-branded wine and beer to drown their sorrows with.

AMPUTEE PLAYERS SHOW OFF SKILLS

Fans looking to take in a game well before kick-off were able to as a group of amputee footballers faced off on a small pitch in the fan village.

And those who watched were treated to some silky skills. 

A FORMIDABLE CLIMB TO FOURVIERE

An unsurprisingly popular choice for fans enjoying some tourism is the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere, which is perched perfectly on a hill, the terraces surrounding it providing spectacular panoramic views of the city.

The climb to get there is challenging, but probably not as difficult as the task Marseille have in attempting to breach Atletico's much-vaunted defence.

Fourviere is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is credited with saving the city on multiple occasions.

Winning the Europa League is unlikely to merit Garcia the reward of having a Basilica named after him but, if the 54-year-old can lead Marseille to glory and back into the Champions League, he will be viewed by many as a saviour of this proud club.

Related items

  • Bologna confirm Donadoni departure Bologna confirm Donadoni departure

    Bologna have confirmed the departure of coach Roberto Donadoni.

    The 54-year-old, who was appointed in 2015, saw his side take just one point from the last six games of the Serie A campaign. 

  • Spalletti in 'no rush' to sign new Inter deal Spalletti in 'no rush' to sign new Inter deal

    Luciano Spalletti says he is "no rush" to sign a new contract and commit his long-term future to Inter.

    The experienced coach was expected to announce a new three-year deal at a news conference on Thursday. 

  • Pochettino signs new deal with Tottenham Pochettino signs new deal with Tottenham

    Mauricio Pochettino has pledged his long-term future to Tottenham by signing a new five-year contract with the Premier League club. 

SportsMax Zone

Latest Tweets

Will Zharnel Hughes finally fulfill the promise he showed three years ago? Almost beating Bolt is Zharnel Hughes be… https://t.co/n13t5f4ayw
Can Kirk Edwards and company make the Volcanoes into a contender in the PCL this season? See story here:… https://t.co/RIOxpkXAXR
Is there a place for Test cricket in today's fast-paced world? Dujon backs rich history to keep Test cricket alive… https://t.co/DRA3f5hBZi
Follow SportsMax on Twitter
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.