For the 2nd time in 3 years Real Madrid will face Atletico Madrid in all Spanish Finals for the most coveted trophy in European Club football, The UEFA champions League. Come Saturday the city rivals will face off against each other in their bid to gain the top prize in a Madrid derby. Atletico will look to win their first title and avenge the 2014 finals defeat while Real will be hoping to add no 11 to their collection the most by any club.
Both the teams have failed to win any silverware this year, both finishing behind Barcelona in the La Liga and in the Kings Cup, the Champions league offers the opportunity to put all that behind. Both team have faced each other subsequently in La Liga and other domestic competitions for over years now and are fully aware of each other’s style of play strengths and weaknesses. Both the sides are managed by young managers both former club players in Diego Simeone and Zinedine Zidane.
The finals is surely going to be a much contested fight as each managers will try to come up with some new tactic, a strategy to outdo the other one more time, and bring home success.
Road to the Finals
They qualified after finishing 2nd in the La Liga and were placed in Group A with the likes of Paris St-Germain, Shakhtar Donestk and Malmo. They cruised through into the knockout phase winning five of the six matches and a lone draw against PSG, firing home 19 goals most by any team in the group Stage.
In the knockout stage they were up against the Italian side Roma, they beat them 4-0 on aggregate scoring two goals apiece in each leg. The first and only threat came in the Quarter finals against the German team Wolfsburg. In the away leg they were beaten 2-0. But come the hour come the man Cristiano Ronaldo showed why he is one of the best player in the world.
In the return leg at Santiago Bernabeu, Ronaldo fired a hat trick beating Wolfsburg 3-2 on aggregate to march into the semifinals in some style.
They were up against the English side Manchester City playing in their first ever semifinal, the away leg ended 0-0 and in the home leg a solo leg by Gareth Bale courtesy a deflection was enough to guide Real Madrid into the finals and ignite the hopes for a “La Undecima”.
The journey of Atletico has not been a smooth sailing and they have reached the finals the hard way. In the group stages they were defeated by Portuguese side Benfica and also drew with minnows Astana but still managed to top their group to move into the knockout phases. In the knockout stages they defeated the Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven on penalties after both the legs ended in 0-0. Next up they were placed against the defending Champions Barcelona.
The match was a master class as Atletico managed to get an away goal even after playing with 10 men for most of the match and in the home leg they eliminated Barcelona by scoring 2 goals on counter, winning the tie 3-2 on aggregate.
The semifinal tie was even harder as they had to go against the free scoring dominating Bayern Munich. But Atletico had other plans and they reached finals courtesy of away goal. They won their home leg 1-0 and in the away were beaten 2-1 the aggregate score being 2-2. They now have a second shot at not only to win the UEFA Champions league but do that at the expense of local rivals who beat them two years ago to the trophy.
Both teams boost of a solid defense, Atleti have conceded the least in La Liga, Madrid on the other hand have had clean sheets in the Champions league barring the match against Wolfsburg.
However the Los Blancos have the fire power in the attack where Atletico Madrid have been found wanting at times.
However going into the match Atletico have a distinct physiological advantage as Madrid have not beaten them in any competition barring the Champions league in the past 3 seasons and even this year Madrid were beaten in the home match and drew away.
But Real Madrid have a certain Ronaldo, a player who can change the match on his day, he has scored a record 16 goals in the Champions league this year and will like to culminate this with a trophy. Mark the date for history is going to be made either ways.