Champions League Final: Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid

By on May 23, 2014

Cross city rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are set to face each other in this year’s Champion’s League final at the Estadio Da Luz in Lisbon as both sides look to secure a double having already won their first pieces of silverware this season.

Real Madrid have been waiting for the coveted “La Decima” ever since they won their last and 9th Champion’s League title back in 2002. But since that victory, they have had to wait for 12 long years to reappear in the final and get a chance of winning that 10th Champion’s League title making them the first club side ever to do so and forever etching their name in history. They have had a couple of good runs in the Champion’s League in the previos seasons but a lot of them have ended at the semi final stages. This season though, they have been probably the most strong side in Europe with the most complete squad and they proved that in their run up to the final. They faced a trio of German sides in their journey towards the final. Los Blancos completely outplayed Schalke in the round of 16 fixtures coming out on top with a massive 9-2 aggregate score line. In the quarter finals, they were offered a chance to take revenge against the side that knocked them out in the semi final stages last season, namely, Borussia Dortmund. Real Madrid won the 2st leg emphatically by 3-0. However, they were given a scare by Jurgen Klopp’s men in the 2nd leg as Borussia Dortmund one that game by 2-0 and very narrowly missed out on knocking Real Madrid out. However, that seemed to be the turning point for Ancelotti’s men and they did not look back since that game. They met Bayern Munich in the semi finals in a game where many suggested that Carlo Ancelotti’s side would be truly tested. However, to much surprise of the critics, Bayern Munich had no answer to Real Madrid’s fast counter attacking football. Real Madrid cruised past the Bavarians with an aggregate scoreline of 5-0, to reach the final.

When Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as the new manager last summer, he had one task – to bring home the much awaited La Decima. The Italina has not disappointed this season. His side have had pretty good runs in all three of the competitions that they have played and have already lifted their first piece of silverware for this season. That title being the Copa del Rey in which they defeated Barcelona in the final. They had a good run in La Liga this season as well having been title contenders till the last gameweek. A string of poor performances in their last four games resulted in them finishing 3rd, which is still a big achievement as they finished level on points with Barcelona and three points behind La Liga champions Atletico Madrid. Now they are in search of a Copa and Champion’s League double as they head into this game.

With such a strong squad, Ancelotti will feel that his side have the upper hand in this game but the Italian won’t have any option of being overconfident ahead of the finale as he knows full well that the defenive organization of this Atleti side is absolutely amazing. Diego Simeone’s men have the ability to defend a 1-0 lead for a complete 120 minutes and Ancelotti’s players must be in top form if they are to test the Atleti goal for extended periods of the game without any outcome. They must also figure out a plan B for this game as they usual counter attacking football might not be as effective because Diego Simeone’s like to draw their opponents out and play very deep on occassions. With victory in this final, Ancelotti will join the likes of Bob Paisley as being the manager with three European Cup titles.

Real Madrid have been in decent form recently having won three of their last five games while losing one. That loss came against newly appointed Barcelona coach Luis Enrique’s Celta de Vigo side in the league and effectively put Los Blancos out of the title race. Real Madrid are undefeated in 29 of their last 30 matches against Atletico in all competitions and have won 7 of their last 8 matches in the Champions League with the only loss coming against Borussia Dortmund in the 2nd leg of the quarter final.

Atletico Madrid fans will be pinching themselves before the game to make sure if this is all a reality or just fantasy. Diego Simeone has done wonders at the club this season and no critic in the world would have predicted that Atleti’s season would come to an end in such a glorious way. “El Cholo” has led them to their first ever Champion’s league final since the 1973-74 edition of the tournament, 40 years ago. Atletico Madrid were extremely unlucky back then as they went up against Bayern Munich in the final. Atletico Madrid were winning the game by 1-0 when in the last moments of the game, Bayern Munich equalized and forced a replay (as was the rule back then). Los Rojiblancos were no match for the Bavarians in the replay as Bayern Munich cruised past them winning the game by 4-0. This season, however, Diego Simeone has converted Atletico Madrid into a real force and they have a very decent chance of destroying Real Madrid’s La Decima dreams and winning their first ever European Cup. Atletico Madrid’s journey to the final was not easy by any means as they had to knock out a couple of the Eruopean big guns on their way. Atletico Madrid were tied with AC Milan in the round of 16. Diego Simeone’s side had no problems against the Rossoneri and progressd to the next stage with an aggregate scoreline of 5-1. In the quarter finals, they played their toughest fixture, as they were tied up against fellow Spanish side FC Barcelona. Many predicted a close encounter between the two where the fans would not get to see many goals and that was exactly the case. The 1st leg at the Camp Nou ended in a 1-1 draw, with Diego Ribas and Neymar scoring some outstanding goals. The 2nd leg at the Calderon was a masterclass defensive performance by Simeone’s side as they took the lead early on and then defended the lead for the remainder of the game. The Catalans simply had no answer to Atletico Madrid’s top notch defending and were knocked out. Los Rojiblancos met Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the semi final stage and found it surprisingly easy to knock them out. The 1st leg ended in a 0-0 draw but Atletico madrid turned up the pace in the 2nd leg and came out on top with a 3-1 scoreline.

Diego Simeone’s achievements at Atletico Madrid, in general, and especially this season have been nothing short of spectacular. Their squad strength is nowhere near the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich or the other European giants withr eports claiming that their entire matchday squad for the smein final 2nd leg game against Chelsea cost a meager 55.97 million pounds as compared to the 438.32 million pounds it took to assemble Real Madrid’s matchday squad. With that squad, Diego Simeone was able to break the duopoly of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in the league after his side were crowned La Liga champions last weekend. Atletico Madrid were three points clear of Barcelona ahead of the final league game between the two and El Cholo’s side needed just a point to win the title. Alexis Sanchez scored early on for Barcelona but Diego Godin’s equalizer in the 2nd half awarded the title to Atletico Madrid. This was their first La Liga title since the 1996-97 season, where they last won the La Liga title with Diego Simeone being part of the playing squad. Now he has won the title both as a player and as a manager and is now on the hunt for the Rojiblancos’ first ever Champion’s League title as well as their first ever League & European Cup double. If Atleti win this game and end up European Champions, it will etch the names of all the squad members and Diego Simeone in the history books and give them cult status.

Diego Simeone has show throughout the season that he is a smart man when it comes to tactics and although his side maintain their root ideology in all the games, their are some areas where his side can be rather flexible and that will be key for this game. he must make sure that his players donot get overwhelmed by this opportunity and can maintain their focus because the way Real Madrid are set up to counter attack, even a single mistake could cost Atleti very dearly. As was evident in the 2nd leg encounter between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Los Blancos can be ruthless when in top form and Simeone’s center back pair, Diego Godin and Miranda must not make the mistakes that Dante and Boateng made in that game. Simeone’s players have worked so hard for their manager this season and the Argentine will ask for just one more gut wrenching performance in this game which would make their names eternal among the Atletico Madrid fans, and football fans in general.

They have been in decent form having won two of their last five league games. However, they have not won any of those last three games and that could be a sign of worry for Simeone. However, Atletico Madrid are the only undefeated side in this year’s Champion’s League campaign and that would give them a whole lot of confidence for this game.

Real Madrid will be without a couple of key players for this game. Xabi Alonso is the biggest loss as he will miss out owing to a suspension fro a booking he recieved in the 2nd leg against Bayern Munich. Jese Rodriguez is out with an injury till September. Karim Benzema, Diego Lopez and Alvaro Morata are doubtful for this game and will be assessed closer to kickoff. Benzema is however expected to miss this one. Cristiano Ronaldo missed Real Madrid’s final three games of the season as he was suffering from an injury but he is back in training and is expected to start although reports say that he is not 100% fit.

Atletico Madrid have two key injury worries ahead of this game. Their star striker Diego Costa who has scored 8 goals in 8 Champion’s League games is doubtful for this game. He was out with an injury going into the final games of the season but recovered in time for the final game against Barcelona. Diego Simeone took a risk and handed him a start but it didn’t pay off as the striker limped off earlier in the game with reports suggesting that it was a relapse of his hamstring injury. He was off to see a placenta doctor this past week and the latest reports suggest that he is now fit for the final and might be handed a start. It could very well be hsi final game for Atletico Madrid as rumors suggest that he could be on his way to Chelsea this summer. Arda Turan is the other key player who is doubtful for this game. The Turkish internation also suffered from an injry in the game against Barcelona and his chances of taking part in the final are slim. Both will be assessed closer to kickoff.

Considering the track record of the meeting between the two sides this season, a very tight affair is expected in this game. This game might very well go into extra time and end in a draw with the champion being decided on penalties.

DATE: May 24, 2014

TIME: 7:45 PM BST

VENUE: Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) — Lisboa

REFEREE: B. Kuipersý

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:
Real Madrid (4-3-3):- Casillas; Marcelo, Pepe, Ramos, Carvajal; Modric, Illarramendi, di Maria; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2):- Courtois; Luis, Godin, Miranda, Juanfran; Koke, Gabi, Tiago, Turan; Garcia, Villa

LAST MEETING: March 2, 2014 | La Liga | Atletico Madrid 2-2 Real Madrid

RECENT FORM:
Real Madrid:- W L D D W
Atletico Madrid:- D D L W W

AUTHOR’s PREDICTION: Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid

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