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 By Ian Holyman

Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane backs Marseille to beat Atletico Madrid in Europa League final

While Marseille's stars may be in scintillating form, the ESPN FC panel are still favouring Atletico Madrid to win the Europa League.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has backed hometown club Marseille to win the Europa League final against his side's local rivals Atletico Madrid.

Zidane, from the La Castellane neighbourhood in north Marseille, never played for the club, but he told reporters at a charity event in Corsica that they can win France's first European club trophy since 1996.

"It's a great performance to have reached the final," Zidane said. "They have had a great run. A final is decided on the small details. They're two big clubs going head to head, two institutions, but OM have the means to win.

"I don't have any advice to give even though I know Atletico. I believe in Marseille's chances."

The game, at Lyon's Groupama Stadium, will be Marseille's first European final since 2003-04, when a side featuring Fabien Barthez and Didier Drogba finished runners-up to Valencia in the UEFA Cup.

Marseille's run has been surprising given they started their campaign against Oostende in late July, having only qualified as a consequence of Paris Saint-Germain's domestic cup success.

"Being honest, when we began the competition against Ostende, playing the final was not on our route-map," Marseille's sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, told El Mundo after a mammoth 18-game run to the final.

"Just playing in the competition was a prize for us. Atletico have an advantage as they have already won this competition. For us, reaching the final seemed impossible, and we must believe now we can win it."

Marseille are awaiting word on the fitness of captain Dimitri Payet, who sat out the 3-3 league draw with Guingamp on Friday.

If Payet features, he and Florian Thauvin give Zubizarreta optimism that Marseille can match Atletico in the final.

"We are similar to Atletico in the sense that we try to win using our own style of play, but if not, we can do it from set-pieces with specialists like Payet," Zubizarreta said. "Marseille are a very well-organised and united side."

ESPN FC Madrid correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report.

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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