Two To Tango: Europa League Final will be decided by the Argentinian duo on either side of the dividing line
Inter Milan will take on Sevilla in Friday night’s highly anticipated Europa League final in Cologne.
The Spanish side are regulars of the Europa League, having won the competition three years in a row between 2014 and 2017. Antonio Conte’s Inter, on the other hand, wants to win their first European trophy in ten years.
Both sides have two Argentinian gems that will make a difference under the Friday night lights.
Sportsmail’s Tom Collomosse and Pete Jenson analyze the styles of Inter’s Lautaro Martinez and Sevilla’s Lucas Ocampos, respectively, ahead of the final …
Lautaro Martinez (left) and Lucas Ocampos will want to light up the Europa League final
INTER MILAN: LAUTARO THE BULL CAN END THE ITALIAN DROUGHT
By Tom Collomosse
From Hernan Crespo to Diego Milito to Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan has always had a soft spot for Argentine forwards – and in today’s No. 10 Lautaro Martinez they may have found the best of the lot.
Fast, strong and effective both in the air and on deck, Lautaro, as he is called, has the potential to be one of the best forwards of his generation, even if he is happier watching LeBron James than after Lionel Messi.
For now, however, El Toro (The Bull) is focused on helping his club reach their first European trophy in 10 years by beating Sevilla in Friday’s Europa League final.
Lautaro Martinez is one of the Argentinian forwards who played a leading role for Inter Milan
The 22-year-old’s list of admirers is on the cusp of growing, especially after scoring two fine goals in the 5-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
Thanks to a stellar showing when Inter lost 2-1 to Barcelona in the Champions League in October, Lautaro is so highly regarded at Nou Camp that Luis Suarez – the man he may one day replace – is already complimenting him.
“Lautaro grew up a lot in Italy,” Suarez told El Mundo Deportivo newspaper. ‘He is a special striker with fantastic movement.
The 22-year-old scored twice when Inter Shakhar Donetsk drilled 5-0 in the semi-final
“We all want to win, and if someone who can help us come here, he would be welcome. I’m not worried, competition between talented players is a good thing. ‘
However, Lautaro’s release clause is around £ 95 million, which could even test Barca’s resources.
The striker’s development is all the more impressive when you consider that when he joined Inter, he had less than three years of senior football behind him.
In fact, he was about to devote himself to basketball at the age of 15.
Prior to the Europa League final, Martinez could have chosen basketball as a sports career
“I love basketball,” he told Argentina magazine El Grafico in 2017. “When I was 15, I had to choose and I went with football, but if I hadn’t made it, I would have played basketball.”
Lautaro could have joined Real Madrid in 2015 but decided to stay in Argentina. Two years later he came close to Atletico Madrid, but stayed there again.
Those near misses allowed Inter to strike in 2018 and pay around £ 20 million – an excellent part of the business. After a slow start in Milan, Lautaro has quickly become a key figure and his partnership with Romelu Lukaku on the offensive has developed into a powerful partnership.
Martinez has developed a terrifying partnership with fellow Inter striker Romelu Lukaku
Before the coronavirus crisis ended Italian football in March, the duo had 39 goals between them and helped Antonio Conte’s side build a challenge for champions Juventus.
“We are good friends, we also spend time together off the field,” said Lukaku. ‘I am very happy with the way we are going, but we can do much better.’
Nonetheless, Lautaro has continued to hit the personal milestones. His strike at Barcelona made him the first Inter player to score at the Nou Camp since Roberto Boninsegna in 1970.
Martinez is key to Inter’s chances of winning the Cologne final on Friday night
Later in the competition, he became only the fourth Inter player to score in four consecutive Champions League matches.
Inter have not performed on the European stage since Jose Mourinho led them to the Champions League title in 2010.
If he wants to follow Mourinho this week, Conte needs the Bull to take the game by the horns.
SEVILLE: ALL-ACTION OCAMPOS HOLDING THE KEY FOR THE SPANIES
By Pete Jenson in Barcelona
Not many players finish a match with the stats ‘one scored, one saved’, but when Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos took the gloves in a game last month, that was always a possibility.
Ocampos scored five games from the end of the season against Eibar to put his team 1-0 ahead. He ended the match in goal after Tomas Vaclik was taken away injured. In keeping with his all-action cult hero status at the club, he saved from Eibar’s latest assault.
“The goalkeeper coach told me to stay between the posts,” he said in an exciting post-game interview, still wearing gloves.
Lucas Ocampos is a cult hero for Seville and the Argentinian could also be a key figure on Friday
Ocampose (third right) is so committed that he even went into goal for Sevilla earlier this season
When asked how he managed to avoid the stoppage time shot of the opponent’s goalkeeper, who had come forward for a corner, he said: “It came right at me.”
Sevilla’s sporting director Monchi spotted the 26-year-old Argentinian while working as Roma technical secretary in 2017.
“I fell in love with him after seeing him play against Roma on loan for Milan,” he told Movistar TV. “Roma won but he was great.”
Monchi never signed him for the Italians, but when he returned for a second spell at Sevilla they needed an explosive, aggressive, goalscorer and so he paid £ 13.5m to Marseille and Ocampos set up a five-year deal with a £ purchase. 63 million. -out clause.
The Argentinian forward has 17 goals in his first season in Seville after a £ 13.5 million move
Ocampos (right) scored the winner to knock out England side Wolves in the quarter-finals
With 17 goals in his first season, clubs would be willing to pay were it not for football after the pandemic financial collapse.
At the age of 18, Ocampos was on a flight from Argentina to Europe. Barcelona and Manchester United kept an eye on him, but it was Monaco who signed him.
At Seville, fans of the life-sized passion, love the huge crucified Christ tattooed on his back, the wolf tattooed on his chest.
They also follow the social media activity of his wife, Argentinian model Majo Barbeito. A barbecue, against La Liga’s lockdown rules and revealed in the mandatory photos on social media, is forgiven.
The winger was a thorn in the side of Manchester United’s defense in this week’s semi-final
Fans of Seville love the passion and character that the winger brings to matches
Ocampos scored the winner against Wolves in the quarter finals of the Europa League, heading home in the 88th minute. Against Manchester United in the semi-final, he played with his right knee heavily tied and kicked off with water bottles when he was substituted in the second half. But he is determined to start on Friday.
“When it reaches this stage of the competition, you play through the pain,” he told sports newspaper Marca.
The only player to surpass Ocampos for his raw emotion is captain Jesus Navas, who stood in front of Luuk de Jong to score the winner in that semi-final and burst into tears at the end of the match.
The only player to surpass Ocampos’ emotion is captain and club hero Jesus Navas (right)
“He eventually let it all go,” said Ocampos. ‘He’s an institution at this club. There is no limit to what he will do on the field for this shirt. ‘
Navas was on the team when Sevilla won the first of their five UEFA Cups and beat Middlesbrough 4-0 in Eindhoven in 2006. At the time, he was struggling with so fierce homesickness that it almost hindered his international career.
Today he has a World Cup with Spain and a Premier League title with Manchester City under his honor, and thanks to Pep Guardiola who encouraged him to play as a fullback, he could win the Europe trophy tonight alongside the unstoppable Ocampos.