As we all know Spanish arch-rivals Real Madrid face off against neighbours Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.
Spanish teams have dominated this competition in recent years and there is set to be a third straight Spanish victory this year.
These two teams of course met in the final of 2014 and Diego Simeone’s team came close to causing a major upset.
Diego Godin’s goal looked like it could be enough to give the underdogs the victory, until that panto-mime villain Sergio Ramos popped-up with an equaliser in stoppage-time.
Los Blancos run riot in extra-time as goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo gave the Spanish giants their tenth European Cup triumph.
Not much of a shock anymore
In the grand scheme of things Atletico Madrid are no longer considered as such underdogs to beat their big bad neighbours. Atleti are slight underdogs to be crowned champions at odds of 11/5, but they are arguably more highly-rated now than they were in the previous final.
Atletico Madrid have become the David of the Champions League, slaying the goliaths of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the previous rounds. Those victories are testament to just how well set-up Los Rojiblancos are by wily boss Diego Simeone.
You must have been living in a cave if you do not know how solid Atletico are at the back. They are the most well organised defensive unit in Europe, as both Barca and Bayern found out to their cost. The win over Bayern failed to shock many people simply because Atletico have been accustomed to beating the odds and the big boys.
Atletico a major attacking threat
Atletico Madrid are not renowned for being prolific under Simeone, but they do not have to be with a defence as resolute as theirs. However in French international forward Antoine Griezmann they possess one of the brightest forwards in world football.
Having spent much of his early career as a winger at Real Sociedad, he is now very much a central striker. His sheer pace alone makes him a nightmare to deal with for opposition defences and he is now regarded as one of the best forwards in the game.
This season he has been in prolific form in front of goal, having scored 33 goals in all competitions, including seven in the Champions League. Griezmann is the outlet for Atletico when they do have the ball.
His pace and the guile of veteran striker partner Fernando Torres are a big reason for Atletico’s good campaign. Former-Chelsea striker Torres is experiencing a second wind at Atleti this season, although not always starting the 32-year-old has scored 12 times and also produced five assists for Simeone’s side.
Atletico’s mix of Torres experience and the pace of Griezmann have proved highly profitable for the team from the capital this season.
Real may be slightly over-confident
The noises coming out of the Real Madrid camp suggests that Los Blancos could be slightly over-confident heading into Saturday’s final at the San Siro.
Gareth Bale has already stated that he does not believe that any Atletico Madrid player could get in the current Real team. The Welshman did negate that comment by calling Atletico a great team though, which I supposed is a certain amount of respect.
Real Madrid have won this trophy on a record-breaking ten occasions and an eleventh would be a big achievement for Zinedine Zidane, who has not even been in charge for a full season.
Zidane’s managerial credentials were questioned when he was appointed as Rafa Benitez’s replacement, but the legendary Frenchman has not done a bad job at all, whether he will be in charge for next season remains to be seen.
Real Madrid will head into this final as favourites for good reason, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema among their ranks.
However, if there is one team in Europe capable of giving Los Blancos a bloody nose it is Atletico and they will certainly be no pushovers for their more illustrious neighbours in this weekend’s final.
Can Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final?
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