The Champions League Big Match Preview: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

real-madrid-atletico-madrid-600x337

Saturday 28th May – 19:45 – San Siro

In a repeat of the 2014 Champions League final, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will go head to head to win the greatest club competition in Europe. Los Blancos, won that game in Benfica to claim their record 10th title. Former Galactico Zinedine Zidane was appointed as manager at the Bernabeu in January and led the club to second in La Liga, winning their final 12 games of the season – finishing up with a 2-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna two weeks ago. The Frenchman is aiming to become the seventh man to win the Champions League as a both a player (which he did in 2002) and as a manager. Atletico meanwhile, are one of just two teams to beat Real under Zidane (Wolfsburg are the other) but finished third in La Liga after slipping up in the penultimate game of the season against Levante. They did finish though with a 2-0 win over Levante. Diego Simeone’s side have never won the Champions League, but have reached the final twice before – 1974 and two years ago. Simeone is hoping to win his sixth trophy as manager of the Vincente Calderon club – this competition is the one he is yet to win since joining in 2011.

Team News

Real Madrid

  • Cristiano Ronaldo insists he is fit enough to play despite limping out of a training session on Tuesday after suffering a knock to his left thigh.
  • Defender Raphael Varane is definitely out, and will miss Euro 2016 with France after suffering a hamstring injury.
  • Casemiro is likely to start in midfield alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, behind a front three of Gareth Bale, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Atletico Madrid

  • Diego Simeone has no injury concerns ahead of the final, having a fully fit squad to choose from.
  • Defender Diego Godin, who scored in the final two years ago is fit after recovering from a thigh problem.
  • Simeone is likely to start with Fernando Torres in his second Champions League final, alongside Frenchman Antoine Griezmann up front, and a midfield four of Saul Niguez, Augusto Fernandez, Gabi and Koke.

The Key Battle: Cristiano Ronaldo vs Diego Godin

CREDIT: JUAN MANUEL SERRANO ARCE/GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: JUAN MANUEL SERRANO ARCE/GETTY IMAGES

Two players who should overcome injuries to compete in Milan, the importance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Godin to their respective sides cannot be understated.

The Portuguese superstar is the all-time record Champions League goalscorer with 93, and has 16 so far in this year’s competition – meaning he needs just one more to equal the record for most in one season set by himself in 2013-14.

Ronaldo has 52 goals in all competitions along with 15 assists proving he’s still world class at 31 years old, and is gunning for his third Champions League success having lifted the trophy with Manchester United in 2008 and Real two years ago. He scored in both of those finals.

Diego Godin also netted in 2014, his header had seemingly won it for Atletico before Sergio Ramos scored in second half injury time. The Uruguayan also scored the goal that won his side the La Liga title that year. Impressive for a defender.

But Godin is a rock at the back to, and will not be flustered by Ronaldo running at him alongside Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. It’s quite a challenge, but it’s the 30 year old’s impressive strength and pace that has already made him a legend at the Vincente Calderon.

Previous Meetings

Real Madrid wins = 107 / Atletico Madrid wins = 54 / Draws = 51

*According to Wikipedia

Last Meeting: Real Madrid 0-1 Atletico Madrid (27th February 2016)

CREDIT: DENIS DOYLE/GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: DENIS DOYLE/GETTY IMAGES

Atletico Madrid won a third consecutive La Liga Bernabeu derby to practically end Real Madrid’s title hopes. Diego Simeone’s visitors are now five points off leaders Barcelona, who have a game in hand, while Real are nine points below the champions. Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal, early in the second half, when he steered Filipe Luis’ pass home. The result means Atletico are the first side in La Liga history to win three times in a row at the Bernabeu, as Real fans called for club president Florentino Perez to resign. [Full BBC report]

Route To The Final

Real Madrid

CREDIT: AFP
CREDIT: AFP

Group Stage

  • Matchday 1: 4-0 vs Shakhtar Donetsk (H) – Benzema, Ronaldo x3
  • Matchday 2: 2-0 vs Malmo (A) – Ronaldo x2
  • Matchday 3: 0-0 vs PSG (A)
  • Matchday 4: 1-0 vs PSG (H) – Nacho
  • Matchday 5: 4-3 vs Shakhtar Donetsk (A) – Ronaldo x2, Carvajal, Modric
  • Matchday 6: 8-0 vs Malmo (H) – Benzema x3, Ronaldo x4, Kovacic

Round of 16

  • First leg: 2-0 vs Roma (A) – Ronaldo, Jese
  • Second leg: 2-0 vs Roma (H) – Ronaldo, Rodriguez

Quarter-Final

  • First leg: 0-2 vs Wolfsburg (A)
  • Second leg: 3-0 vs Wolfsburg (H) – Ronaldo x3

Semi-Final

  • First leg: 0-0 vs Manchester City (A)
  • Second leg: 1-0 vs Manchester City (H) – Fernando o.g

Atletico Madrid

CREDIT: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
CREDIT: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Group Stage

  • Matchday 1: 2-0 vs Galatasaray (A) – Griezmann x2
  • Matchday 2: 1-2 vs Benfica (H) – Correa
  • Matchday 3: 4-0 vs Astana (H) – Saul, Martinez, Oliver, Dedechko o.g
  • Matchday 4: 0-0 vs Astana (A)
  • Matchday 5: 2-0 vs Galatasaray (H) – Griezmann x2
  • Matchday 6: 2-1 vs Benfica (A) – Saul, Vietto

Round of 16

  • First leg: 0-0 vs PSV (A)
  • Second leg: 0-0 vs PSV (H) – Atletico win 8-7 on penalties

Quarter-Final

  • First leg: 1-2 vs Barcelona (A) – Torres
  • Second leg: 2-0 vs Barcelona (H) – Griezmann x2

Semi-Final

  • First leg: 1-0 vs Bayern Munich (H) – Saul
  • Second leg: 1-2 vs Bayern Munich (A) – Griezmann

Managers Quotes

CREDIT: GOAL
CREDIT: GOAL

Zinedine Zidane: “It’s going to be a difficult game for sure, extremely difficult, but we already know this and we’re prepared for it. We’ve had two weeks to prepare and now the players want the ball to start rolling.”

Diego Simeone: “The game will be very tense, very even, especially at the beginning. Casemiro enables them to regroup better if they lose the ball. Whoever wins the early battles in midfield will have an advantage – Madrid, with their technical qualities, might try to play more.”

The Referee – Mark Clattenburg

CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/HARRY ENGELS
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/HARRY ENGELS
  • Last Champions League game: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich (27th April 2016) – 5 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last Real Madrid game: Real Madrid 1-0 PSG (3rd November 2015) – 4 yellow cards, 0 red cards
  • Last Atletico Madrid game: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich (27th April 2016) – 5 yellow cards, 0 red cards

2015-16 Record: Games = 46 / Yellow cards = 162 / Red cards = 7 / Penalties = 7

Stat of the Match

There will be a Spanish winner of the Champions League/European Cup for the third consecutive season, the longest run for a single nation since English clubs won it six times in a row from 1977 to 1982.

Where Can I Watch It?

The match is being shown live on BT Sport Showcase live from 7pm on Saturday evening with kick-off 45 minutes later. It’s free for everyone to watch, and is Freeview channel 59 and Sky channel 414. Alternatively, the highlights will be on ITV later on at 11:15pm.

My Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Atletico Madrid

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Atletico may have dominated this fixture recently, but I think Real Madrid will turn up for the occasion and be victorious in a tight and entertaining encounter. Two years ago, it was Simeone’s men who took the lead before going on to lose and I think this could well be the case again. Antoine Griezmann will score for them before Ronaldo comes to the rescue once again for Real, netting twice to give Los Blancos their 11th Champions League crown.

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