The 9th of May 2012 represents a historical day for the Romanian capital,which has the honour of hosting a major sporting event:the UEFA Europa League final which is contested between two teams from Spain:Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid.
Last year Romanian people had the great satisfaction of seeing a new and ultramodern stadium,the National Arena,being inaugurated in the match between Romania and France(0-0) from the preliminaries of EURO 2012.It was a great achievement for a country in which almost all the stadiums are outdated and the conditions offered to the spectators are far below those in countries like England or Germany,where stadiums are always packed.Anyway,as a reward for the efforts made by Romanian authorities to build a beautiful arena in a few years,the city of Bucharest was awarded the organisation of the Europa League final.
While most Romanian fans secretly hoped to see a Romanian team in the final,we had to be realistic and admit that the chances were extremely few because of the big difference of value between our league and the major European leagues.There were a few hopes when Steaua Bucharest managed to qualify from the group stages and reach the last 32,but Dutch team Twente Enschede proved to be the end of the road for Romania's most loved club.I'm convinced that many fans,not only from Romania but also from the rest of Europe,wished to see a final between the two English giants,Manchester City and Manchester United,which surprised everyone by finishing their groups in the Champions League in third place,which still gave them the chance to continue in Europe's second club competition.It would certainly have been a dream final,but it didn't happen because both teams from Manchester were eliminated in the last 16 by Sporting Lisbon and Athletic Bilbao.The English giants were probably not very focused on Europa League,their main goal being the title in England after their disappointing Champions League campaigns,but that doesn't diminish the merits of the teams which eliminated them and treated this competition with the respect it deserves,even if the earnings it generates are still much behind those from the Champions League.
Anyway,Romanian spectators who bought tickets to the big final will certainly not be disappointed because the two teams who reached the final act,Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid,both play an extremely entertaining style of football,and the presence of world class players like Falcao,Diego,Arda Turan or Llorente guarantees an extraordinary match.May 9th 2012 represents the day of the Spanish invasion of Bucharest because there will certainly be an impressive number of fans from both sites in the Romanian capital and even many fans who don't have tickets for the match will still travel to Bucharest to have fun and watch the game somewhere in the city.This massive presence of Spanish fans in Bucharest(although many fans of Athletic Bilbao probably don't consider themselves Spanish)represents another proof of the hegemony of Spain in the world of soccer at the moment,a domination which could have been total if Chelsea and Bayern Munich hadn't rebelled against the tyranny of the two giants of Spanish soccer,Real and Barca,in the Champions League.
It's hard to predict the outcome of the final because the value of the two teams is extremely close;Atletico Madrid has already won this trophy two years ago,when they beat Fulham in the final,while Athletic Bilbao will try to win its first ever European trophy,but regardless of who wins the big match,it's going to be an extremely exciting clash.It's definitely a game you can't miss if you like high quality soccer.