It’s a Madrid derby in biggest game of the season
May 28th this year is the date of what’s always the biggest game in the club season- the Champions League Final.
This year, we’re seeing a repeat fixture of 2014’s Madrid derby, where is was Real Madrid who eventually ran out 4-1 winners after extra time thanks to goals from Sergio Ramos, who equalised in the 93rd minute of the match to take the game into an extra half an hour, and then further goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo to win Real’s 10th European Cup.
2 years on from that night in Lisbon, and tonight our attentions switch to Milan, where the two Madrid’s clash again. Atletico have had an impressive European campaign, knocking out both Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and last year’s winners, Barcelona.
Real, on the other hand, will see this as an opportunity to salvage what has been a disappointing, trophyless season so far. 2nd in the league, for most teams, would be seen as a success, but Real have sacked managers in the past for that ‘disappointment’. Current manager and club legend, Zinedine Zidane, was employed earlier this season to replace the sacked Rafa Benitez, has has a huge chance to cement himself further into Madird folklore, as they chase their 11th European title. The biggest disappointment so far this season, however, was the disqualification from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player, Denis Cheryshev.
The big news for Real is that Cristiano Ronlado has been passed ‘100% fit’ to play according to manager Zidane, which is a huge boost. However, defender Rafael Varane is definitely ruled out of this one with a hamstring injury that will also keep him out of Euro 2016.
Casemiro is likely to start in midfield alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, behind a front three of Gareth Bale, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
For Atletico, defender Diego Godin has been passed fit to play, but apart from that, there are no fresh injury concerns for Diego Simeone’s side, who are likely to start Fernando Torres and Antonie Griezmann together up front.
This is Real Madrid’s 14th European cup final- more than any other team, out of those previous 13, they’ve won 10, including the last 4 they’ve appeared in (1998, 2000, 2002 and 2014).
This is Atletico’s 3rd final in their history, but they are yet to win one as their previous 2 (1974 and 2014) were both failures.
Atletico have won seven of their last 16 games against Real Madrid, in all competitions.
The last 4 competitive games between these 2 sides have only produced 4 goals, and Real Madrid have kept 10 clean sheets in total in Europe this season, which equals a record set by Arsenal in 2005/06.
This one is incredibly difficult to call. Almost all the big players are fit and raring to go, so the teams picked could be anyone, and anything can happen on the night. Who will step up and be counted for their team? Who will bottle it and not show up?
Real Madrid predicted XI: Navas, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Atletico Madrid predcited XI: Oblak, Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin, Filipe Luis, Niguez, G.Fernandez, A.Fernandez, Koke, Torres, Griezmann.
Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid odds
Real Madrid are favourites to lift the trophy tonight within 90 minutes, with their odds being 6/4, with Atletico at 3,30 odds. Extra time is a 21/10 chance. A penalty shootout has 4/1 odds, but it undoubtedly something neither set of fans will be wanting. See the latest odds at Unibet!
Real Madrid key man: Gareth Bale.
Bale has had a mixed season this season due to injury, but when he has been fit, he’s been on form, getting 19 goals in 21 La Liga appearances. He scored in the 2014 final, and will be hoping to score again tonight, and most would fancy him to grab a goal at some point in the game
Atletico Madrid key man: Fernando Torres
Tonight’s finally his chance to step up. He’s enjoyed success over the years at Chelsea, but he’s never been the same player since leaving Liverpool in 2011. Tonight is his chance to reach the heights he once reached in a Liverpool and Chelsea shirt, and win the biggest trophy of them all for his childhood club Atletico. At 32 years old, this could be his last chance.
SCORE PREDICTION: Real Madrid 3-2 Atletico – After Extra-Time. Koke to score first for Atletico, and Gareth Bale to be awarded Man of the Match.
By Ben Kelly – @benkelly_10