26 May 2016
UEFA Champions League Final 2016 Preview
This weekend we look forward to the 61st final of the leading club competition organised by UEFA, the 24th since it was renamed, the Champions League. And for second time in three years the final will have a somewhat local feel to it as the city of Madrid descends upon Milan this Saturday (28th May). Atlético Madrid will take on fierce rivals Real Madrid in what will be the 6th one-country Champions League Final in its history, with Real being victorious in two of the previous five.
This year’s edition sees a replay of the 2014 final, the last time the two Madrid sides clashed in Europe in Lisbon. It was Atlético that took the first half lead and controlled the game until deep into extra time where Sergio Ramos levelled the game on 93rd minute to take it into extra time. The final ended 4-1 after extra-final, which did not fairly reflect the competitiveness of the game.
Having both narrowly missed out on the La Liga title, the two Madrid teams will be eager to have the bragging rights of the City and bring home the Champions League trophy. Real are on a recent upturn in form after an unsteady mid-season which has seen them go on a 15 game unbeaten league run, beating rivals Barcelona along the way at the Nou Camp. In fact, the last team to beat Real in the league was Atlético; so the question remains, will Real’s recent form can overcome the psychological advantage that Atlético possess?
Neither of the side’s managers are short of passion and enthusiasm, both Zidane and Simeone renowned for their commitment as a player and manager, and sometimes over exuberance from the technical area. If Real go on to lift the trophy on Saturday evening, “Zizou” would become the first the player and manager to win the title with the same club.
Over the years the sides have met over 200 times in the Spanish League, Cup and Super Cup games, with Real Madrid being runaway leaders on wins against the 51 of Atlético and 49 draws in total including a 10-year winless period for Atlético between 2002 & 2013, the “Galacticos” era. However since losing the 2014 Final, Atlético have recorded 5 wins and 3 draws and are unbeaten in eight domestic games against their local rivals.
It will be an interesting match-up between the two, both offering different styles of play; Atlético on one hand will put on a solid and robust defensive display and aim to open up the sometimes vulnerable defence of Real on the counterattack. Whereas, Ronaldo and Co. can often be found very much on the offensive leaving potential holes in the midfield and defence… regardless of the tactics it’s sure to be a tasty contest!
Going against the bookies’ favourite Real, Atlético’s psychological advantage will be enough to do the business. They will be determined to break their duck in the Champions League, and become the 24th team to win Europe premier competition. It’s going to be tough for them and cagey at times, so 1-0 in favour of Atlético is the prediction.