Coming 24th May, Lisbon awaits for an all-Spanish finale. Estadio da Luz, home of Benfica is the venue. For the first time in 59 years of the European competition, the final will be fought between teams from the same city: MADRID!
This is for the second time that audience will witness an all-Spanish final, first one was witnessed 14 years ago, between Valencia vs Real Madrid. Both sides had a great run in UCL this term as Real Madrid have been beaten just once, whereas Atletico remains the only unbeaten team. Real Madrid booked their finale spot by humiliating current champions Bayern Munich 5-0 on aggregate; whereas, Atletico Madrid chewed out Chelsea to ensure Madrid Derby had a date in Lisbon.
Critics are claiming Real Madrid to win their long-awaited La Decima – their 10th European Cup.
Real Madrid has competed in 13 European finals before, winning 9, whereas the amount on the Rojiblancos side is ZERO! – in fact this will be Atletico’s 2nd final ever, and first in 40 years. Real’s last success came 12 years ago vs Bayern Leverkusen. On that night Zidane was man of the match, this time the club legend will be in the dugout as Carlo Ancelloti’s assistant. Real Madrid has the mentality, the players, the coaches & all that it takes to become European Champion but they know that Atletico’s stubbornness and determination cannot be underestimated.
Xabi Alonso will miss the final due to suspension; his fantasy was axed after earning third yellow card of the campaign. However, fantasies do come true for some: Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing the final in his hometown, CR having the Champions League campaign of his life; he has already notched a whopping 16 goals. Real’s Pepe & Coentrao also return to their native land for the La Decima mission. On the other side, Atletico’s star man Diego Costa has netted 8 goals in Champions League. You can certainly analyze the goal difference between both star players. Team quality & squad depth is sounding out La Decima becoming reality. On the domestic, Real Madrid has already won Copa del Rey, whereas La Liga’s pendulum is swinging in Atletico’s favor. So I suggest do expect a two-legged Spanish Super-Copa (in August) as a repeat of Lisbon final.
In my previous editorial I did mentioned that Carlo Ancelloti was gifted world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale, along with Spanish prodigies Isco, Illaramendi & Carvajal. The other half of Madrid sanctioned sale of their star player, Radamel Falaco for €60 million. Diego Simeone quickly signed five players including David Villa and other lesser known Baptistao, Alderweireld & Guilavogui. Later in January Diego Ribas & Jose Sosa were added – all signings were just for €29 million. Estadio da Luz promises us to stage the ultimate clash of ideologies.
On 24th May, when you switch on your tv/stream links don’t expect the final to be like Valencia vs Madrid or Milan vs Juventus or even last year’s Bayern vs Dortmund – this is a DERBY, expect it to be tougher, expect it to be brutal, expect it to be awesome! As a Barcelona fan, I would love to see Simeone’s Atletico upset Galaticos v2.0, but if Madrid does goes to win it – it’s all well earned by them. I have seen my team win Champions League thrice, witnessing Blancos winning “one” won’t be that painful. Whosoever wins, the trophy with big ears is destined to return to Spanish football yet again!