Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid – San Siro at 19:45 live on BT Sport Europe
The biggest match of domestic European football competition brings the 2015/16 season to a fitting end, with old rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid contesting their second Champions League Final in just three season’s.
Back in the 2014 final, Diego Simeone’s Atletico were literally moments away from an historic double, having confirmed their La Liga crown with a hard fought 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou against Barcelona, but deep into injury time of the Champions League Final, Sergio Ramos equalised for Real.
The rest, as they say is history as Los Blancos closed out the match with ease, 4-1 in Extra Time against an Atletico team that had nothing left in the tank. That too was an historic moment, as Real became the first and still only team, to win 10 European crowns.
The scars from that last gasp failure, against their most bitter of rivals, will remain forever in the hearts of all Atletico Madrid fans, players and manager, Simeone. This season’s Champions League Final has offered them a quick route to redemption and it is one that Diego Simeone and his players will be desperate to grab with both hands.
For opponents Real, much has changed in the two years since their late, late show in Lisbon and for new rookie manager Zinedine Zidane, a Champions League trophy in his first season in the hot seat, would go a long way to convincing the club that he could be their first long term manager, in what seems like forever.
Real’s record in the Champions League this season has been outstanding, P12 W9 D2 L1 and with 27 goals scored and just 5 conceded, they somewhat surprisingly boast the best defence in the competition. Having combined that with the second most prolific attack, it is not a shock that the best performing team in the competition have reached the final.
Atletico, did not perform quite as well as expected in this season’s group stage but they progressively improved as the tournament went on. Having beaten both Barcelona and Bayern Munich over two legs to reach this stage, Atletico clearly had the harder route to the San Siro Final, but on Saturday night they will be full of confidence because of it.
Another source of hope for the loud and loyal Atletico fans is their recent record when playing against neighbours Real. Atletico have lost just one of their last ten games against Real, conceding just six goals during those matches.
Also, Real Madrid’s crown jewel, Cristiano Ronaldo has picked up a knock in training that could mean he will not be 100% fit on Saturday, but I think it would take at least a broken leg for him not to take the field for a Champions League Final. He is this season’s and the all-time, leading goal scorer in Champions League history after all.
Looking at the betting markets for Europe’s showpiece match, ten time winners Real Madrid are unsurprisingly priced up as favourites to win the match in 90 minutes at around 2.50. The main Asian Handicap betting line for this game is +/-0.25 and the Asian Handicap Total Goals line is set at just 2 goals.
When these two sides met at the Bernabeu in February, Real were 1.94 favourites on the day, but lost the match 1-0 in the end. In the La Liga match played at the Vicente Calderon, Real were again favourites to win, this time priced at 2.36 and again they failed to claim all three points, as the game ended 1-1.
These prices are not too far off where my model has them, but I do think there a touch of value on Atletico, especially when you take into account their form against Real, Cristiano’s potential lack of full fitness and current form.
Atletico Madrid has been drilled into becoming defensive grandmasters by Diego Simeone over the last few years and even the best attack minded teams in the world have been unable to regularly break them down. But, recently they have shown a devastating, killer instinct in front of goal as well.
They notched three or more goals, in a six out of seven match spell at the end of March and early April. With on form French striker Antoine Griezmann developing into a world class talent up front, they head into this match with more to worry Real Madrid’s defence, than they did in 2014.
I think we are in for a tight and tense match, similar to the vast majority of recent meetings between these two Madrid giants, but Atletico have an edge over their more famous rivals and some value in the markets. So, I am happy to back them to claim a maiden UEFA Champions League title on Saturday night in Milan.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Atletico Madrid +0.25 at 1.85
Prices correct at the time of writing.
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