On the 24th of May, the Spanish Capital would decamp or rather make a short trip to Lisbon, Portugal where Fierce City Rivals, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid will contest for the European Club Competition Top Prize.
It is the first time since 2000 that we’ll have an all Spanish Final but of more significance, the first final between Clubs from the same city in the Competition’s 59 year History. It’s the El Derbi Madrileno.
It’s going to be a friendly Battle! The thought of Diego Costa squaring up against Sergio Ramos should be an epitome of that!
Let’s take a preview of what to expect, the history of the teams and much more. Enjoy!
- REAL MADRID: 3rd in La Liga with a point haul of 87
- ATLETICO MADRID: Won the La Liga for the first time since 1996 by holding defending Champions, Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp. By winning the Spanish top division, they are the first side in 10 years other than Barcelona or Real Madrid to win the League. The last side to do so was Rafael Benitez Valencia in 2004.They finished with a total of 90 points.
- According to reports, Pepe and Karim Benzema are doubts going into the Final with Carlo Ancelotti soberly admitting to that. Should Pepe miss out, it is expected that Raphael Varane would take his place but it would be interesting to see who replaces Frenchman, should He miss out.
- Xabi Alonso would miss the Final due to suspension
- On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will feature in the show piece after overcoming injuries. Big boost!
- Atletico are sweating on the availability of two of their creative forces, Diego Costa who again picked up a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp and Arda Turan who was first down the tunnel with a knock against the Catalan Giants during the weekend.
Gabi should return after missing out the 3-1 second leg convincing win at Stamford Bridge thanks to suspension.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
GROUP STAGE: Real Madrid was placed in Group B alongside Italian Champions, Juventus, Turkish Giants, Galatasaray and Danish Side, Copenhagen
A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick, a brace from Karim Benzema and Isco’s strike helped Los Blancos to 6-1 away win in Turkey. On Match day two, two goals from Ronaldo and Di Maria secured a comfortable 4-0 win for the Whites of Madrid over the Dane side.
Match day Three and four was a double-header against the Old Lady. They won 2-1 in Spain and held the Italian side to a 2-2 draw at the Juventus Stadium.
A 4-1 Home win over Galatasaray secured Madrid’s place in the knockout stage while on the last day of group fixtures, they won in Denmark 2-0.Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo scored the goals. They topped the Group with 16 points, won 5 and drew one, scored 20 goals and conceded 5.
ROUND OF SIXTEEN: They faced German side, Schalke 04, the first of their Bundesliga Conquest, in the Round of Sixteen. Los Merengues decimated the Germans 6-1 at the Veltins Arena which made the second Leg a formality.
The Germans put up a better fight but Madrid was still too strong and ran out comfortable 3-1 winners. It finished 9-1 on aggregate.
Quarter Finals: They faced their conquerors in last season’s semi finals, Borussia Dortmund. They won 3-0 at the Santiago but fell 2-0 at the Signal Iduna in what was an unforgettable night. That has been their only loss in what has otherwise been a flawless campaign. It finished 3-2 on aggregate.
Semi Finals: They faced Current Cup-Holders, Bayern Munchen in the final of their trips to Germany. A poacher’s goal from Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a slender advantage going into the second leg which was expected to be a battle. What happened?
Braces from Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real to a 4-0 demolition of the Bavarian Giants. Ronaldo scored his 15th and 16th Champions League goal that night and broke the UCL Record for goals scored by a Player in a single campaign. That has till date been their most complete performance in this season’s UEFA Champions League. It booked their ticket to their 13th European Cup Final, the first since 2002 when they beat Bayer Leverkusen. On Saturday; they’ll go in search of their 10th European Crown.
REAL MADRID 2013/14 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GOAL SCORERS
Cristiano Ronaldo- 16 goals
Karim Benzema-5 goals
Gareth Bale-5 goals
Angel Di Maria- 3goals
Isco Alarcon- 3 goals
Sergio Ramos-2 goals
Luka Modric- 1 goal
Alvaro Morata- 1 goal
Alvaro Arbeloa- 1 goal
Group Stage: They were in Group G with Former Champions, Porto, Russian Side, Zenit and Austria Wien.
They kicked off with a 3-1 home win over Zenit and won away 2-1 in Portugal. In their back-to-back matches against Austria Vienna, they on 3-0 in Austria and 4-0 in Spain.
Their trip to Russia ended in a share of spoils (1-1) while on the 11th of December, 2013, they eased to a comfortable 2-0 over 2004 Champions, Porto. They finished top of the Group with 16 points, 15 goals scored and just a miserly 3 let in.
Round of Sixteen: They were paired up against seven time Winners, AC Milan. In the first Leg, a late goal from Diego Costa and a couple of valuable saves from Courtois secured a priceless 1-0 win at the San Siro.
They would however blow away the Italian Side 4-1 at the Calderon to secure their Quarter-Final Slot.
Two goals from Raul Garcia and one apiece from Arda Turan and Diego Costa did the damage.
Quarter Final: it was an all Spanish Affair as they came up against Catalan Giants, Barcelona. The first Leg at Nou Camp ended 1-1 with Neymar equalizer cancelling out a Diego’s stunning opener. It was all to play for in the second leg.
However at the Vicente Calderon, an early goal from Koke was enough to secure the semi-final slot for the Rojiblancos .Barcelona’s Quarter Final exit was the first time they failed to reach the semi-finals in 7 years (2007) where they lost to Liverpool in the Round of Sixteen.
Semi Finals: The semi final meeting between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea was one of teams managed by tacticians known for their Counter-Attacking Philosophy.
It certainly lived up to its pre-match expectation. Chelsea held Los Colchoneros to a nil-nil draw in Spain and were marginal favourites heading to the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
In the Second Leg, everything looked to be going according to what had been written in the script when Former Atletico favourite, Fernando Torres put the Blues ahead but Atletico with other ideas, stormed back and hit not once, not twice but thrice through Adrian, a Diego Costa Spot-Kick and a tap-in from Arda Turan to book their ticket to Lisbon.
This is Atletico Madrid’s first final in forty years, the longest wait between Finals eclipsing that of Inter Milan(1972-2010).They are still the only undefeated side in this season’s UEFA Champions League. Would that give way? Time would tell!
ATLETICO MADRID 2013/14 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GOAL SCORERS
Diego Costa- 8 goals
Arda Turan- 4goals
Raul Garcia- 4 goals
Miranda- 2 goals
Adrian Lopez- 2goals
Leo Baptistao- 1 goal
Diego Godin- 1goal
Felipe Luis-1 goal
Diego Ribas- 1 goal
Koke- 1 goal
PERVIOUS MEETINGS (EUROPEAN COMEPETITIONS)
In the 1957/58 La Liga season, the Los Indios (Atletico Madrid) finished second, three points behind Real Madrid. Then, only Champions of European Leagues got to play in the European Cup but because Real were the European Cup Holders, Atletico Madrid were granted a place in the following season’s European Cup. These two teams met in the following season, in the semi final in what has been their only meeting in European Competition. Madrid won the First Leg 2-1 but Atletico won the second 1-0.At that time, there was no away goal rule and a play-off was required. Real Madrid won the play-off 2-1 to advance to the Final. They went on to win it .If the away goal rule had been in force at that time, it would have been the Rojiblancos and not the Los Blancos that would have advanced to the Final.
PREVIOUS EUROPEAN CUP FINAL
Real Madrid has previously contested in 12 European Cup Finals while Atletico Madrid has previously appeared in the show piece once.
1955/56 –Real Madrid CF 4 V Stade de Reims(Parc de Princes, Paris)
1956/57 – Real Madrid CF 2 V AC Fiorentina 0 (Santiago Bernabeu,Madrid)
1957/58 –Real Madrid CF 3 V AC Milan 2 (Heysel Stadium, Brussels)
1958/59 –Real Madrid CF 2 V Stade de Reims 0 Neckerstadion,Stuttgart)
1959/60 – Real Madrid CF 7 V Eintracht Frankfurt 3 (Hampden Park, Glasgow)
1961/62 –SL Benfica 5 V Real Madrid CF 3(Olympisch Stadium, Amsterdam
1963/64 – FC Internazionale Milano 3 V Real Madrid CF 1(Praeterstadion, Vienna)
1965/66 – Real Madrid CF 2 V FC Partizan 0 (Heysel Stadium, Brussels)
1980/81 – Liverpool 1 V Real Madrid CF 0 (Parc de Princes, Paris)
1997/98 –Real Madrid CF 1 V Juventus 0 (Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam)
1999/00 –Real Madrid CF 3 V Valencia CF 0(Stade de France, Saint Denis)
2001/2002- Real Madrid CF 2 V Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1 (Hampden Park, Glasgow)
- 1973/74 – FC Bayern Munchen 1 V Club Atletico de Madrid 1(aet)
- 1973/74 –Club Atletico de Madrid 0 V FC Bayern Munchen 4 (replay), (Heysel Stadium, Brussels)
The Argentine has been nothing short of excellent in his 2 ½ years as the Manager of Atletico Madrid. Europa League win over Bilbao in 2012 was followed by a 4-1 demolition of Chelsea in the European Super Cup. In 2013, his team edged Madrid in a heated Copa Del Rey Final, their first derby win since 1999.
This season, he’s led his team of workers to an unlikely La Liga triumph, their first in 18 years and it’s largely because of the 44 year old that the Los Rojiblancos are in their first European Cup Final in 40 years. Wow!
He never won the Coveted Crown as a Player but he did win the UEFA Cup in 1997 with Inter Milan. Should he lead his team past the finishing line, he’ll join fellow Argentinians, Luis Carniglia and Helena Herrera as the only non-European Coaches to win it.
Should He also lead the Los Colchoneros to a first European Cup Crown, Atletico Madrid will become the fifth Club after Juventus, Ajax, Bayern Munchen and Chelsea as Clubs to have won the 3 main European Competitions.
He employs the 4-4-2 Formation though disguised as a 4-1-4-1 with both Strikers dropping back to midfield to close space and playing through the channels with it. The wide midfielders also play centrally when they don’t have the ball to ensure no space for the opposition and breaking at fast pace with the ball. They are a direct side and dangerous from set-plays. While most teams employ 3 midfielders in order to have better retention of the ball and also for the extra man without the ball, for Simeone and his men, emphasis is not keeping the ball but rather controlling space. Barcelona and Chelsea and even Real have fallen victims to this rather unorthodox but effective tactic with Barca topping that unfortunate list of victims.
It is only fitting that one of the most respected and revered Coaches in European Club Competition will lead the most successful Club in the aforementioned Competition to the Final in search of their tenth European Crown, the La Decima.
He boasts a CV very few can match; as a Player He was European Champion with AC Milan in the 1988-89 and also in the 1989/90 seasons.
While from the dugout, he’s also won it twice both with AC Milan in the 2002/03 season and in the 2006/07 season. He also led the Rossoneri to the 2005 Final where they lost in heartbreaking circumstances to a Steven Gerrard inspired Liverpool side.
This is his fourth European Cup Final, a feat matched by Sir Alex Ferguson, Marcello Lippi and Miguel Munoz. The 54 year old will also aim to join Liverpool Legend, Bob Paisley as the only Manager to have won three titles as a Manager and also attempt to become the fifth Manager after Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfield, Jose Mourinho and Juup Heynckes as the Managers to have won it with two different Clubs.
In his spell at Madrid, he’s gradually moved from the 4-2-3-1 Counter-Attacking formation employed by the pragmatic, José Mourinho to a more expansive 4-3-3 Formation .This formation is a very direct one with emphasis on the flanks and pace.
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The referee for this European Final Showdown is Dutchman, Bjorn Kupiers. He was named to be referee for this Final on the 7th of May, 2014
He officiated the 2011 UEFA Super Cup between Barcelona and FC Porto and he was also at the centre of things in the 2013 UEFA Europa League Final between Chelsea FC and Benfica.
He is the fourth Dutch referee that would take charge of a European Cup/Champions League Final after Leo Horn in 1957 and 1962, Charles Corver in 1978 and Dick Jol in 2001.
THE CITY OF LISBON
It is the capital and the largest city of Population with an estimated population of 547,631.It is also the political centre of the Western European Country, as seat of Government and residence of the Head of State.
Going down the history lane, Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world and the oldest city in Western City predating other modern European Capitals such as London, Paris and Rome by hundreds of years.
Rainha do Mar as the City is also known, will stage its first European Cup Final for the first time in 47 years(1967) when Celtic beat Inter Milan 2-1 at the Estadio Nacional. Lisbon also hosted the 2005 UEFA Cup Final at the Estadio Jose Alvalade, home ground of Sporting Lisbon. The Final was between Sporting Lisbon and CSKA Moscow which ended 3-1 in favor of the Russians.
The Estadio da Luz will host the UEFA Champions League Final for the first time. The 65,000 capacity Stadium is the home ground of Portuguese Giants, Benfica.
The Original Ground which was demolished in 2003 to make way for this one has played Host to European Cup Finals. It hosted the 1992 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final between Werder Bremen and AS Monaco. The German side won 2-0. It also hosted the second leg 1983 UEFA Cup Final where Anderlecht drew 1-1 with Benfica to lift the trophy.
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL STATS
- Since the advent of the UEFA Champions League in 1992, Spain has been the most successful Nation with six victories in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2011 in Nine Final appearances. Italy is next with five victories in 1994,1996,2003,2007 and 2010 in eleven finals. England has been victorious on four occasions in 1999,2005,2008 and 2012 and lost in 2006, 2007,2008,2009 and 2011 while Germany were winners in 1997,2001 and 2013 and lost in 1999,2002,2010,2012 and 2013.
There have been four finals between teams from the same country. In 2000,Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 at Stade de France; In 2003 AC Milan edged out Juventus on penalties at Old Trafford; In 2008,Manchester United saw off Chelsea from the spot-kicks in Moscow while in 2013, a late Arjen Robben goal helped Bayern Munchen past Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.
In the previous 21 UEFA Champions League Finals, there have been 15 outright wins and the other six decided from the shoot out. A total of 54 goals have been scored, with the most common result being 2-1, which has happened 5 times; there have been four 1-1 draws and three finals have finished 1-0.
No team has played in more UEFA Champions League than AC Milan (six) in 1993, 1994,1995,2003,2005 and 2007.Their victory in 2007 over Liverpool in Athens equalled Real Madrid’s record of three UEFA Champions League titles, a mark FC Barcelona also matched in 2011 after a Final 3-1 over Manchester United at Wembley.
Paolo Maldini’s 51 seconds goal against Liverpool in the 2005 Final is the fastest in a UEFA Champions League Final.
Jens Lehmann (2006) and Didier Drogba (2008) are the only players to have seen red in a European Cup Final.
Ottmar Hitzfield (Dortmund, 1997 and Bayern 2001), Ernst Happel (Feyenoord, 1970 and Hamburger SV, 1983), Jose Mourinho (FC Porto, 2004 and FC Internazionale Milano, 2010) and Juup Heynckes (Real Madrid, 1998 and Bayern Munchen, 2013) are the only Coaches to have won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League with two clubs. Carlo Ancelotti would hope to join them on Saturday.
No player has hit a hat-trick in a UEFA Champions League Final. Daniele Massaro(AC Milan, 1994), Karl-Heinz Riedle (Borussia Dortmund, 1997), Hernan Crespo (AC Milan, 2005) Filippo Inzaghi(AC Milan, 2007) and Diego Milito (Inter Milan, 2010) have hit a brace. However in European Cup Finals, Ferenc Puskas scored four goals in Real Madrid’s 7-3 win over Frankfurt in 1960 with Alfredo Di Stefano hitting a hat-trick. Puskas also hit another Final hat-trick in 1962 with Pierino Prati (Milan, 1969), the other player to have managed a final treble.
Clarence Seedorf is the only player to have lifted the European Cup with three clubs (AFC Ajax, 1995, Real Madrid 1998 and AC Milan, 2003 and 2007). Liverpool’s Bob Paisley is the only Coach to have won it three times.
WHAT REAL MADRID SHOULD DO
- It is important that the Whites of Madrid don’t allow the pressure of the occasion get to them. They must with play calm though that’s easier said than done but it will be very important. I expect Atletico Madrid Players to try work their players up but they must remain calm. I hope Sergio Ramos gets to read this.
They’ll be expected to take the initiative to Atletico Madrid unlike the game against Bayern. They must however be wary of being caught out on the break especially on the flanks. There must be a balance lest Atleti would do to them what they did to Bayern.
They must be quick and get their fast Players on the Ball and not allow the Los Rojiblancos to regroup lest they just have the possession while Atletico could have the most important stat and the Cup.
Defensive Troubles: They must watch out for this especially from the set pieces. The back line though impressive against Bayern is still very much the weak part of this highly talented team. Atletico Madrid has scored a couple from dead balls situations and with the likes of Miranda, Godin, Raul Garcia and Diego Costa they pose a threat.
Maximum Concentration: Atletico are known for their high levels of commitment, dedication and concentration and they like possessed fellows. That same team would most likely turn up on Saturday. It’s now for Madrid not to switch off at any time. If the scoreline is a slender goal margin at half-time, then it’s important they keep up their concentration levels in the first few minutes of the second when Atletico would come out all bursting.
The Big Boys: Atletico Madrid, except jinxed would rise to the occasion so it’s now for the BBC crew and the rest of the team to rise up though in a positive manner.
Exploit the Backline especially in set piece situations
While they won’t play with much pressure due to the fact that their season is already a success, it’s however important they don’t allow the euphoria of the League success to get to them. This is a big opportunity to seal their names in Atletico Madrid’s history book something Club Legend, Luis Aragones would be proud of.
A couple of their players have looked jaded in recent weeks and with the injury list mounting up, it’s only advisable they try settle it in 90 minutes. Taking it to extra time could tell on their fitness levels. However from the way their season has gone, that shouldn’t be a problem as they prefer to do things the hard way.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
Real Madrid should start as marginal favourites but predicting a winner is too close to call. It’s going to be a close and tight game with a moment of brilliance, mistake or an inspired substitution or even the dreaded shoot out deciding the blockbuster.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Who do you tip to win?
Thank You all for the support. It’s been amazing!