2016 Champions League Preview
European Cup/Champions League History
No club in European football can top Real Madrid’s number of European Cup titles – they have 10 in total which is 3 more than Italian powerhouse AC Milan. Real won their last title in 2014 when they ran out winners against this year’s opponents Atlético Madrid – coming from behind to eventually win 4-1 in extra time. That was the second consecutive loss for Atlético in a Champions League final as they had previously lost to German side Bayern Munich in 1974 in a replay after a 1-1 draw. So, can it be third time lucky for Atlético or will they become the first team to lose their first three European Cup/Champions League finals?
Road to Milan
Both sides comfortably qualified from the group stage with Atlético topping their group ahead of Benfica and Galatasaray, while Real Madrid also won their group by beating Paris Saint-Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk. In the knock-out rounds, Real’s road to Milan was arguably easier than their crosstown rival’s as they faced Roma, Wolfsburg and Manchester City; Atlético, on the other hand, knocked out Dutch team PSV Eindhoven, holders Barcelona and favourites Bayern Munich.
For many years Real Madrid were seen as a bogey side for Atlético; indeed Atleti failed to beat los blancos in 22 matches after their promotion from the second division in 2002. That has all changed in recent years as Atlético, under manager Simeone, have won four and drawn two of the last six league matches against Real, while they have also beaten them in a Spanish Cup final. Of course, they lost out to Real in the Champions League final two years ago but their recent form against their more illustrious rivals means they no longer have an inferiority complex.
Both managers are seen as legends of their respective clubs. Atlético‘s Diego Simeone played for the club in their double-winning season of 1995-96 and then returned to manage the side to more glory: the Europa League title of 2012, the Copa del Rey in 2013 and the Spanish league title in 2014 and, of course, taking them to the Champions league final two years ago. Zinedine Zidane represented Real Madrid over 150 times as a player and he won the Champions League with them in 2002 thanks to one of the greatest ever goals in a final. He has only been in charge since January of this year but he has taken the club to its 14th Champions League final as well as finishing second in the league – one place above Atlético.
Well, it is going to be a cagey affair with Real hoping that their flair players will be able to break down one of the most disciplined sides in football. Just like the 2014 final this one could go to extra time but this time I think Atlético will overcome Real and take their first ever Champions League title.
Let us know what you think will happen in this weekend’s Champions League final by posting a comment below.
top: Can beat
powerhouse: A traditionally strong side
they ran out winners: They beat a team; they won
the second consecutive loss: Their second defeat in a row
arguably: It could be argued, we feel/think
Atleti: The nickname of Atlético Madrid
los blancos: The nickname of Real Madrid
more illustrious rival: Their more well-known rivals
an inferiority complex: To feel as if they are not as good as someone
their flair players: Their more attacking/skillful players (Ronaldo and Bale for example)