It’s all set up, the party hats are on and the Doritos are in the bowl, just have to wait till Saturday! Yes it will be the battle of the Madrid’s as Atletico take on Real (my pre-tournament pick) in the final of the Champions League set in Lisbon of all places. At least Lisbon is fairly close to Madrid so the fans can go on a boozy bus ride.
I predicted an all Madrid final before the semis were played and further on that I predicted that the winner of the Chelsea Atletico game would win the final because they match up well against Bayern and Real. However since making that prediction both Atletico and Real have stuttered along in the league, with the prior limping over the line to win the league, due to that my feelings on the game have changed slightly.
In their respective semis Real out tacticised (real word?) Bayern (the best team in Europe) in the first leg and then blew them away in the second (similar to what Bayern did to Barca last season). Atletico on the other hand played out a tactical 0-0 and then out classed Chelsea in London. Both teams deservedly went through their semis and both went through convincingly.
The big question for both teams is the players who may or may not be fit for the final. In Real’s case you have serious question marks over Pepe (not a big deal he can’t defend and Varane is his replacement and is probably a better player) and Benzema (who also isn’t really a good player but they don’t really have someone else to play up front), and minor doubts over Bale (the man made of glass) and Ronaldo (easily their best player), on top of that Xabi Alonso is suspended (shouldn’t be a big deal, Illaramendi, Isco or maybe even Khedira should step in). Bale will almost certainly play, and Benzema and Pepe aren’t really a loss, the big question is the fitness of Ronaldo. If he doesn’t play Real don’t have a chance (he’s that important), in the likely event that he does play it gives Real a chance.
In Atletico’s case the two big questions marks are over Diego Costa and Arda Turan, Atletico however are not reliant upon one player to win them big games, in fact they are the total opposite they are very much an 11 man team (yes I know that reads silly). Both players would be a loss but I think Turan will probably start and Costa will probably be on the bench with Adrian starting up top.
The two teams have already met four times this season, with Real winning 2 games (both in Copa Del Rey), Atletico winning 1 game (at the Bernabeu) and the final game being a draw. It’s really hard to separate the two teams in this one because the two games which Real won don’t mean as much as the one game which Atletico won (I’m pretty confident Real would have given up the cup wins for a draw in the game they lost).
So that’s that, if Ronaldo doesn’t play Atletico will definitely win but if he does and is near fully fit then I think it really is set up to be a 50/50. I’d love to see an open attacking game with a bundle of goals, but I think it is more than likely that we will see two teams trying to sit deep, not make a mistake and counter. If the game plays out like I think then I can’t see Real defending well enough to win the game. If Atletico go 1-0 up it could kill the game, so the best thing for the game as a spectacle (and for Real) would be for Real to score the first goal because it would open the game up nicely. Personally I see the game going to extra time, because I think that both team will sit back trying to not make a mistake. Whether the game will go to penalties or not I’m not sure but at the end of the game I believe that Atletico players will be lifting the trophy gloriously above their heads.
There you have it, for me it looks like Atletico will be the new champions of Europe for the first time ever. I don’t really care which team wins, all I’m hoping for is a good game and a deserving winner. So leave a comment about who you think will be winning the Champions League; will it be Real’s 10th or Atletico’s 1st?
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