The grueling club football season of 2015-16 would come to an end at San Siro this weekend. The glamorous UEFA Champions League will know its winner as Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid fight it out at Milan on Saturday 28 May.
The presence of these two Madrid clubs is a reminder of the increasing dominance of Spanish clubs on the European scene. Incidentally, this is the second Champions League final between these sides. 2014 saw an enthralling final that went into extra time to separate these two bitter rivals. There’s no reason why 2016 would be any less entertaining!
How did they reach the champions League 2016 final?
Real Madrid have mixed sheer grittiness with plain luck to carve their path to the final. After an easy passage from the group stage, Real Madrid were lucky enough to avoid big names till the semi-finals. AS Roma and Wolfsburg were never a match although both had their moments to trouble Los Blancos. .
It was only Manchester City in the semi-final that proved a tough nut for Madrid. A solitary goal, across two legs, from Gareth bale was enough to earn them a chance at an unprecedented 11th Champions League victory. .
Atletico’s story to the finals is that of a giant killer. They had little trouble in the group stages but were stretched to penalties by PSV Eindhoven in the last-16. They then turned up the heat by shocking favorites Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
Following this act, Atletico dumped out Bayern Munich in the semi-finals to get another shot at winning their first Champions League trophy. Revenge for 2014 would definitely be on top of their minds ahead of the final.
Zidane vs Simeone
These two are as apart in managerial style as any pair can ever be! If Zidane is calm and collected in his demeanour, Simeone is a show of emotions.
Zidane was thrown into the deep end when Madrid were in real doldrums at the end of Rafael Benitez reign. But the Frenchman brought improved performances with his squad by finishing second in La Liga and pushing Barcelona till the last minute. Putting it across Atletico will, nevertheless, be the biggest challenge of his short managerial career.
Zidane will join a select band of professionals who won the Champions League both as a player and coach. But standing between him and that record is Simeone.
The Argentine tactician has managed to punch way above his weight and bring his club to one step from glory. His team prides on being defensively astute and stifling the opponents.
Griezmann vs Bale
Antoine Griezmann has lived up to his potential this season, leading Atletico in all competitions. If Simeone wants to see his dream of lifting the cup fulfilled, so much would depend on the French forward.
For Zidane, the injury to Cristiano Ronaldo would put more focus on Gareth Bale. The Welshman had to live under the shadow of a huge money transfer but this is his chance to come out of it and lead his team to glory.
Bettingxper.com Champions League Final Prediction
Madrid derbies have always been hotly contested with very little goals but plenty of entertainment. This encounter has the potential to go till penalties to decide the winner. No spectator would be complaining, though, as the stage is set for an exciting finale!