Expect fireworks when Atletico Madrid face Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League at the Estadio da Luz on Saturday (19:45 BST, live on ITV).
Real Madrid travel to Lisbon on the back of a 3-1 victory at home to Espanyol on the final day of the Spanish season. They finished the campaign in third, three points behind the champions Atletico, with 87 points from 27 wins, six draws and five defeats.
Los Blancos are nine-time previous winners of the Champions League and are desperate to secure their 10th title – La Decima. They comfortably topped Group B, saw off Schalke and Borussia Dortmund in the first two knockout rounds and then comprehensively defeated holders Bayern Munich 5-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals.
It has been a solid first season in charge for Carlo Ancelotti, whose tactical flexibility has been key to his side’s run to the final. He has generally reduced Madrid’s reliance on the counter-attack, but he has not been above setting out a solid defensive base and striking on the break when appropriate, as his side did to devastating effect against Bayern.
The pace and power of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale (pictured) and Karim Benzema means Madrid remain a very potent threat on the counter, but they are also capable of more considered build up play. Luka Modric has flourished under Ancelotti’s command, establishing himself as one of Europe’s best midfielders, while Isco, too, has impressed in patches.
Ancelotti has doubts over the fitness of Benzema (groin) and Pepe (calf) ahead of Saturday’s final, but he has confirmed that both Bale and Ronaldo will take part despite their respective niggles. Xabi Alonso is suspended after picking up his third yellow card in the competition during the second leg of Madrid’s semi-final triumph over Bayern Munich.
Atletico come into the final in high spirits on the back of sealing their first Primera Division title in 18 years. They finished the season three points clear of Barcelona and Real Madrid, with 90 points from 28 wins, six draws and four defeats.
Los Colchoneros are the only remaining unbeaten side in this year’s Champions League. They topped Group G ahead of Zenit before impressively seeing off AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea on route to the final. Their runners-up finish in 1974 is their previous Champions League best, although they have won three other major European trophies.
Diego Simeone has done an unbelievable job since taking over in late 2011. He delivered the Europa League trophy at the end of his first half-season, the Copa del Rey the year after that and is now just one win away from an incredible league and Champions League double. He has achieved this with a team crafted in his own image: intense, strong and hard-working.
His side are supremely well organised in defence, with the back four remaining deep and narrow while the rest of the team form a compact and solid shield in front of them. Once the ball is won, Atletico attack swiftly and efficiently, consistently seeking the quickest route to goal. They concede low-quality shots and create high-quality opportunities for themselves.
Simeone is likely to be without his injured top scorer Diego Costa (hamstring) for this Champions League final, while Arda Turan (pelvis) is also a doubt but is more likely to take part. Adrian and Raul Garcia are the most probable replacements if they fail to make the starting XI.
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid Champions League Final Betting Tips
These sides have met on four occasions already this season. Atletico had the better of the league fixtures, winning 1-0 away at the Bernabeu and drawing 2-2 at home, while Real Madrid won 5-0 on aggregate over the two legs of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Atletico triumphed the last time they met in a final, winning 2-1 to lift last year’s Copa del Rey.
Real Madrid gave clear priority to the Champions League final in the latter stages of the Primera Division title race, resting key players in an attempt to reach the final in good shape. They clearly have the final third quality to cause Atletico problems and are, in fact, one of only five teams to have scored two or more goals in a match against Atletico this season.
Atletico have enjoyed a truly fantastic campaign but mental and physical fatigue have begun to take their toll in recent weeks. They drew two and lost one of their final three matches of the league season and have picked up a number of niggling injuries in recent weeks. They will have to raise themselves for one last big performance here.
Despite the obstacles that have been placed before them, we believe Atletico have what it takes to lift the Champions League trophy in Lisbon.
- Back Atletico Madrid to lift the trophy @ 15/8 with Coral. See the latest prices here.
- The total booking points market (10 points for yellow; 25 for a red card) provides solid value as both sides are at times likely to resort to professional fouls in order to break up promising counter-attacks. Their two league meetings this season averaged 65 booking points and we would expect similar. Back over 55 booking points @ 13/10 with William Hill.
Bookies Special Offers on Champions League Final
- Coral – 3/1 Real Madrid to lift the trophy: This is for new customers only. Place your first real money bet as a win single up to £/€10 on ‘Real Madrid to lift the trophy’ in the Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid ‘New Customer Offer’ market. If your bet wins, you’ll be paid out at 3/1 straight away. Maximum stake £/€10. Visit Coral Bookmaker.
- Totepool (also known as Totesport): This special offer is 4/1 for Real Madrid to beat Atletico Madrid in 90mins (ie: normal time). New customers only must register at totepool.com and back Real Madrid at the current 90mins price (currently around 10/11). If the bet wins then you will be paid out at 4/1 within 24 hours. The maximum stake is £10. Customers will also get a free £10 bet when they place their next bet of £5 or more on any fixed odds market at evens or above. Visit Totepool.
- BetVictor: If a red card is shown at any time during the Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid Champions League Final then BetVictor will refund losing Correct Score, First/Last/Anytime Goalscorer, Half-Time/Full-Time, Scorecast & Spincast bets as a free bet up to £25. Go To BetVictor.
- Betfair Sportsbook: Get 4/1 on Bale To Score At Anytime in the Champions League Final. This is an enhanced price for new customers only. The normal price is 9/5 with the firm. So the offer is a little over double the actual odds. To claim you must be a brand new customer and you must use this promo code when you register: ZEP503. It is only for a maximum of £/€10 & applies just to UK & Ireland residents. Click here for this exclusive deal from Betfair Sportsbook.