The San Siro will this Saturday play host to a cracking UEFA Champions League finale as two Spanish sides, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid seek to win the season’s most important piece of silverware in club football.
Real Madrid overcame Atletico in the 2014 final to win their tenth title in Lisbon but just what do Zinedine Zidane and his men need to do this time to extend their unbeaten? Real fans just can’t wait for the UCL trophy to land at the Bernabeu and how sweet it would be for them to do it over their arch city rivals Atletico who have been a formidable side under Diego Simeone.
Both sides were favorites to win the La Liga after rivals Barcelona faltered towards the close of the season following a loss of ten points lead but the Catalans recovered just in time to secure a second La Liga title successively.
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Real Madrid: WWWWDW
The Los Blancos’ slim chance of snatching the title from Barcelona on the last day ultimately came to naught as Luis Suárez led the Catalans to a comfortable win with a hat trick at Granada. Cristiano Ronaldo's early goal meant that for 15 minutes Zidane's men topped the provisional table. The Portuguese hit a second soon after for his 35th in the league this term – but Madrid were destined to finish runners-up by a point.
Atlético Madrid: WLLWWW
Atlético, already fated to come third, ended their domestic campaign with a routine victory. Fernando Torres opened the scoring following a fiery, if goalless, opening 45 minutes at the Estadio Vicente Calderón. Antoine Griezmann then overtook Radamel Falcao as the club's top marksman of the Simeone era, with his 44th strike in that frame. The clean sheet meant ever-present Jan Oblak conceded just 18 in the Liga season, equalling Francisco Liaño's Spanish top-flight record.
This is the sixth one-country UEFA Champions League final, with Madrid having won two of the previous five against Valencia in 2000 (3-0) and Atlético in 2014.
Aside from 2014, Atlético's sole other European Cup final came at the Heysel Stadium, against FC Bayern München in 1973/74. Luis Aragonés's 114th-minute free-kick gave them a 1-0 lead, but Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck equalised in the last minute and Bayern prevailed 4-0 in the replay at the same venue two days later. Should they triumph in Milan, Atlético would become the 23rd club to lift the European Cup and the first new name since Chelsea’s 2012 triumph in Munich.
Should Real Madrid win, it will be the Galacticos’ 27th UEFA final in addition to their 13 European Cup appearances.
Real were UEFA Cup winners in 1985 and 1986 and European Cup Winners' Cup runners-up in 1971 and 1983. They lifted the UEFA Super Cup in 2002 and 2014 having lost in 1998 and 2000, and won the European/South American Cup in 1960, 1998 and 2002, losing in 1966 and 2000.
Saturday’s clash promises to be an explosive affair with a 50-50 chance for both sides but I am certain this game will not go into extra time. As solid as Atletico are defensively, the front line of Real will most definitely break them down. Zidane’s men will win this tie with a 2-0 scoreline.
Real Madrid XI:
Navas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modrić; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Out: Varane (hamstring)
Oblak; Juanfran, Godín, Giménez, Filipe Luís; Koke, Gabi, Fernández, Ñíguez; Griezmann, Torres.
Good luck with your UCL Final betting; gamble responsibly!!!