2016 UEFA Champions League Final Preview
With European club competition coming to an end and with the excitement, joy of International contest just around the corner, the clash between Madrid giants, Atletico and Real, should be an interesting one as Atletico look to exact revenge for the events that occurred in 2014 in Lisbon.
For the second time in as many as three years, the Champions League Final will feature an all-Madrid derby as Real Madrid, one of best attacks in the world, will face off against Atletico Madrid, who possess one of the world’s toughest back lines in the world, inside the San Siro in Milan on May 28th, 2016.
The last time these sides had faced off in the Champions Leagues was in 2015 as a Javier Hernandez game-winning goal gave Real Madrid a 1-0 aggregate win over Atletico and sent them to face-off against Juventus.
The final in Milan will bring history to both respective clubs as Real Madrid are chasing after a UEFA Champions League best eleventh Champions League trophy, also known as “La Undecima” as they are the most successful and decorated team in the tournament. In comparison to Atletico Madrid who are still looking for their first ever UEFA Champions League trophy.
Real Madrid made its way to Milan by coming out on top of Group A which included the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Malmo FF, and FC Shakhtar Donetsk. During the knockout stages it faced and conquered AS Roma, VFL Wolfsburg and Manchester City FC.
Atletico Madrid head into the final after having finished top of Group C contained with SL Benfica, Galatasaray AS, and FC Astana. Onto the knockout stages as they managed to get by the likes of PSV Eindhoven, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Possible Real Madrid line-up (4-3-3): Navas, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Modric, Kroos; Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo
Possible Atletico Madrid line-up (4-4-1-1): Oblak, Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Filipe Luis; Saul, Gabi, Fernandez,Koke; Torres, Griezmann
Atletico Madrid Key Player: Antoine Griezmann
As Atletico’s top leading goalscorer in this season’s Champions League campaign with 7 goals in 12 games played, the Frenchman is Simeone’s focal point of attack and most dangerous offensive weapon. He was born to score goals and shine in moments just like these as he rose to the occasion against both Barcelona and Bayern by scoring crucial goals for his side. If Atletico Madrid want to win this game they will need to rely on Griezmann to put the ball in the back of the net and get past the Real Madrid back four and surpass the impressive Keylor Navas.
Real Madrid Key Player: Gareth Bale
Yes, I know Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player on the team and for the most part the reason why Real are in another Champions League final but hear me out. Most of the teams Madrid come up against try to come up with a game plan to specifically limit Cristiano Ronaldo because on his day is one of the world’s greatest finishers which in result will open up spaces for other Real players to step up to the occasion. As Atletico have done in the past against the Portuguese winger, they will look to double team him at all times, won’t be giving him any space to receive the ball and make him frustrated.
This is where Gareth Bale comes into the picture as he needs to be the difference maker in the match and make Atletico pay for giving him too much room to work with. The Welshman’s Champions League campaign hasn’t been the best as he only managed 2 assists in 7 games. He needs to use that blistering pace, great dribbling and wicked shot to put in a man of the match performance and ultimately help Ronaldo on the attack. Ultimately, if Real Madrid are going to win on Saturday, it will be up to Gareth Bale to prove to everyone he is worth the hefty price tag, can take over games and lead his team to victory. More importantly now that Cristiano Ronaldo suffered a knock to his thigh during Tuesday’s training session after colliding with back-up goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1
Even though Atletico possess one of the world’s strongest and most difficult defenses to break down in the world, I still believe the rejuvenated Real Madrid offense, behind manager Zinedine Zidane, is too lethal for any defense in soccer. They have the pinpoint passing, great decision making from midfield duo Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, accompanied by one of the world’s best trio’s up front with Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid’s deadly counter-attacking style of play will be too much for the Atletico defense.
Let’s hope this all-Madrid final lives up to the hype and as fans of The Beautiful Game witness an outstanding performance by two European giants.
Writer’s Note: What are your thoughts about the game? Who will come out on top at the San Siro? Share your thoughts in the comments below.