When Atletico Madrid secured the Europa League trophy at the expense of La Liga rivals Athletic Bilbao in Bucharest on Wednesday night, there was more than a slight sense of deja vu.

Radamel Falcao, was for the second consecutive campaign, the difference between success and failure - he scored two goals in the 3-0 victory, almost exactly 12 months after netting the only goal for Porto in last year's showpiece final against Braga - helping Atletico to replicate their competition triumph of 2009-10.

The 26-year-old Colombian international became the first ever player to win the Europa League in back-to-back seasons with two different clubs, but his achievement could have far greater impact on the remainder of the 2011-12 campaign.

The last time Los Colchoneros landed the trophy, Bayern Munich finished as Champions League runners-up, Tottenham finished fourth in the Premier League, and Blackpool won promotion to England's top-flight, via the play-offs.

With the Bundesliga giants set to face Chelsea in this year's major European final, Tottenham locked in a three-way battle to finish third, fourth or fifth, and Blackpool ready to fight West Ham at Wembley for a place in the Premier League, could history be about to repeat itself? GiveMeFootball investigates....


Bayern Munich v Chelsea

With this year's final set to be played on the Bavarians home patch, the Allianz Arena, Bayern clearly go into the game with a slender advantage. But, if the 2011-12 campaign has taught us anything, it's that you write Chelsea off at your peril.

Roberto Di Matteo masterminded the Blues' progress against the odds in Barcelona, having taken inspiration from their successful navigation through the group stages, and impressive fight back against Napoli, the standout performance from which momentum was initially gathered.

The last time the two sides met was in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2005 - Chelsea winning the two legged tie 6-5 on aggregate - with Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard netting five of the goals between them, and both getting on the scoresheet in each of the home and away matches.

However, the Blues will be without a number of key players on May 19 this year, with John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and Ramires all suspended for the final. There are also fitness concerns over defensive duo Gary Cahill and David Luiz, who are both facing a race against the clock.

The attacking threat of Mario Gomez - one of only three players to reach double figures in goals in the Champions League this campaign (12) - will be looking to exploit Chelsea's defensive frailties with support from some of the best forwards in Europe, in Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter, and has all the makings for one the great European nights. Chelsea's 'underdogs' tag has worked in their favour before, and could prove decisive as Di Matteo and Co. look to deliver the one trophy that has eluded Roman Abramovich ever since he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2003.


Tottenham chase 3rd or 4th

In terms of the Premier League, Chelsea can no longer finish higher than sixth, but their presence in the Champions League final slightly complicates the race for European places this season.

If the Blues beat Bayern, they will take part in next season's competition as holders - but at the expense of the fourth-placed Premier League team that would normally qualify for the Champions League.

Instead, the top three sides, plus Chelsea, will all enter Europe's top tier competition at the group stages, leaving whoever finishes in fourth with entry into the Europa League.

But, if Munich prevail then the top four teams will qualify as normal, with fourth place facing a Champions League play-off, and Chelsea entering the Europa League courtesy of last weekend's FA Cup final success over Liverpool.

Tottenham currently occupy fourth in the Premier League table and host Fulham at White Hart Lane in their final game. If they are to have any chance of finishing third, however, and guaranteeing their Champions League inclusion, they need north London rivals Arsenal to slip up in their match against West Brom.

Newcastle are only a point behind Spurs and travel to Everton on Sunday, but Harry Redknapp's side know they need only match the Magpies' result to secure at least fourth spot.


Blackpool v West Ham

The 2012 Championship play-off final will be battled between two sides seeking an immediate return to the Premier League next year. Pre-season favourites West Ham failed to meet expectations and secure automatic promotion, and are now left facing a nail-biting encounter against Blackpool.

On paper, the head-to-head match-up swings largely in the Hammers' favour, following their emphatic 4-0 victory at Upton Park in October. Sam Allardyce's men recorded an equally impressive 4-1 win at Bloomfield Road in February, despite being reduced to ten-men after Rob Green was sent off, and being forced to play over half an hour with Henri Lansbury in goal.

West Ham cruised comfortably to Wembley this year with a 5-0 aggregate victory over Cardiff City in the semi-finals, while Ian Holloway's Seasiders faced a much tougher task in seeing off the challenge of Birmingham City, with a 3-2 aggregate win.

But, previous meetings and form count for nothing in a one-off play-off final encounter - a match that is billed as the biggest prize in football - and despite West Ham being overwhelming favourites to win, Blackpool will fancy themselves to upset the odds again, just as they did two years ago.

Topics:
#Europa League
#Football
#Championship
#Premier League
#UEFA Champions League