It started on June 30, 2015 with the First Qualifying Round, and it ends on May 28 with its showpiece finale at Milan’s San Siro Stadium. It’s been a year in the making, but finally we know the identities of the two teams who will battle it out for the continent’s premier prize….and it’s two teams from the same city!
Atletico and Real Madrid will contest the Champions League final, and the local flavour should add a feisty undercurrent to what is already a huge occasion. It really is a tale of opposites: Real boss Zinedine Zidane, in his playing days, was the epitome of flair and natural brilliance. Atletico gaffer Diego Simeone was, in his time, a rather more pragmatic and dogged presence. It is amazing how their respective teams have been moulded in their own inimitable style.
Real have been rocked by the news that Raphael Varane, their hugely talented young centre back, will miss the final due to injury, and that leaves Zidane with the rather unappetising prospect of loose cannon Pepe joining Sergio Ramos at the heart of his defence. If Atletico were to take advantage, it would be there.
Simeone has no injury worries (at the time of writing), and so will be able to call on a full strength squad that has served him so admirably. This fixture really does have the feeling of the ‘lady and the tramp’ about it given the two teams’ contrasting financial situations; but as Atletico will be only too aware, every dog has its day.
Head to Head
Given the history of the two clubs, it is perhaps no surprise that Real dominate proceedings when taking on their Madrid neighbours. However, there was an anomaly at some point in 2013….and it is worthy of further investigation.
From the dawn of time up until the 2014/14 campaign, boasted a record of W31 D14 L9 in Madrid derbies. If that was still the case to this day, we could announce them as winners now and do away with the whole thing.
But, and this really is of importance, since that 2013/14 campaign to the present day, the tables have been turned, and it’s Atletico with their W6 D6 L3 run that have dominated. Don’t forget this season Real have failed to beat them in their two meetings as well.
So why the turnaround then? Well, for context, the 2012/13 season was Simeone’s first full campaign in charge of Atleti. Perhaps that explains things….
The Road to Milan
After rudimentary progress from the group phase, these two sides took rather contrasting paths to the final.
Real’s run of Roma-Wolfsburg-Manchester City is hardly the stuff of nightmares, and all associated with the club would have snapped your hand off if you’d offered them that route to the final prior to the tournament starting.
Atletico meanwhile have faced rather more hardship on their path to Milan: you wouldn’t wish PSV-Barcelona-Bayern on your worst enemy. Have they got another big performance in the locker though?
You can make a case for either side here, and that’s to be expected of a Champions League final. Real Madrid’s record in Champions League knockout ties – W9 D3 L3 in the last three years – is outstanding, and must not be overlooked. Neither must their end to the domestic season, in which they won eight straight matches.
But there’s a lot to be said for this Atletico side, and don’t forget their psychological advantage having won one, drawn one of their pair of meetings with Real this season to date. Picking a winner is as difficult as it gets here….
But what we can offer you in the way of betting tips is that this *should* be a low-scoring contest. Only 30% of the last ten Real-Atletico matches have gone over the 2.5 goal barrier, and just a combined 33% of their knockout matches in this competition in the last three years have done likewise. So Under 2.5, at 4/7, appears to be the way to go.
A combined stat of 30% of BTTS in their combined last 20 knockout games in the Champions League is another great insight, and so we’ll sign off by promoting the cause of the BTTS (no) & Under 2.5 Goal market at Evens as your angle in come Saturday.