Match Preview: The Champions League Final – A Madrid Derby
Venue: The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro), Milan
Time: 1:45 pm EST
Two clubs from the same city, never mind the same league, being able to lay claim to being in the top three clubs in the world is nothing to scoff at. Not that most would say so of Atletico. Their achievements will always have an asterisk beside it for many because of how they play their football. The other is a traditional powerhouse. The winningest club in the history of football gets another chance to add to that impressive legacy tomorrow against their city rivals.
The last time they met in a Champions league final, the score-line flattered the deserved winners Real somewhat; but two years later they seek to add to the Decima of Europe’s most coveted club football title and the score shouldn’t matter.
The road for Atletico, the ordained underdogs, has been through two highly favoured in Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Both clashes were won by stifling the strengths of these teams and grabbing timely goals, frustrating, and holding on. Say what you will, it has worked and the most likely strategy will be some variation of this. Cristiano Ronaldo, if fit as he says, will be the prime target on Saturday. Although not influential outside a meaningless goal the last time around one senses that the expectations will be for something special from the ageing superstar. Also of note is his failure to score against Saturday’s opponents in his last five tries. The other two thirds of the British Broadcasting Corporation – sorry BBC – look in fine form and Atletico’s game plan will certainly centre on stopping these three from making much of the service from Luka Modric in particular.
It is a clash of styles as the clean sheet masters come up against the free scoring Real Madrid. That is not to say Atletico have nothing to offer up front. The highly coveted and sought after Antoine Griezmann poses an eternal threat and Fernando Torres continues his rejuvenation back home. Diego Godin, the in-demand Saul Niguez, Koke and their fullbacks all have significant roles to play if Atletico are finally to break their Champions league duck.
Real Madrid will undoubtedly enjoy most of possession and they will have Luka Modric and Toni Kroos who know something about ball handling to try to facilitate and orchestrate for the front three. What will determine the direction of the game is who scores first and how that will change the dynamics. A first goal for Real forces Atletico to be more expansive while Atletico scoring first could see Real frustrated. Whatever the result the title will be in Madrid in the third all Spanish Champions league final and sixth overall featuring teams from the same league. It is attack versus defense what we suppose is the right to be called the real Madrid, for a while at least. Enjoy.
Real Madrid: K. Navas, Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin, Filipe Luis; Saul, Koke, Gabi, Fernandez; Torres, Griezmann
Last five meetings
Wins: Real Madrid 1 Atletico Madrid 2
Goals: Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 6
Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 1