This season’s Champions League has thrilled and entertained us throughout and this Saturday the final match will bring the curtain down on the domestic season before discerning sports fans head into the World Cup action in June. It’s the 17th time two teams from the same country have met in the final but it’s the first ever time two teams from the same city meet, giving this derby added spice and heightened competition.
Newly crowned Spanish champions Atlético Madrid are the team of the moment. The feat of breaking the Real Madrid-Barcelona title monopoly has to be lauded, but to also reach the Champions League final in the same season has the mark of a team purring to perfection. Manager Diego Simeone has crafted a team in his own playing persona – fiercely competitive, organised and technically brilliant.
With sought-after striker Diego Costa leading the line, supported by a fearsome midfield featuring Koke, Arda Turan, Gabi and Raul Gracia and tight defence it’s hard to see where they could give away any ground in this battle. Even if there was, Simeone wouldn’t let it happen – it’s just not in his nature for the animated Argentinean.
Having one of the world’s most talented squads gives you no divine right to win anything, but having the world’s best player in Cristiano Ronaldo does give you a very strong chance of winning matches. The Portuguese forward has been in scintillating form again this season, growing in stature as Real Madrid’s talismanic hero. Add to this the raw power of Gareth Bale, the guile of Luka Modric and Isco together with the solidity of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas and you have a formidable line up.
If there has been one chink in the armour of Real Madrid, it has been the clubs blinded pursuit of La Decima – the 10th Champions League crown that has eluded the club since 2002. Countless managers have tried and failed and now it is the turn of Carlo Ancelotti and his raised eyebrow to have a crack at the big one. As Real Madrid’s destruction of Bayern Munich in the semi-finals demonstrated, Ancelotti has the tactical clout to play fast and direct – yet still attractive – football.
Winner Takes All
This Saturday’s final in Lisbon will be an intriguing game at Estadio do Sport, a Madrid derby with the greatest club prize at stake. Atlético Madrid will be buzzing from the league title and Real Madrid want La Decima so badly – it’s a tough one to call. Perhaps too tough for even Elysium Magazine to call (taking into account our poor form in predicting the winner over the years) but there can be only one winner in this head to head. Tune in on Saturday to see who wins (kick off 7.45pm).
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