We are just over 48 hours away from club footballs biggest night of the year as the two Madrid giants Real and Atletico, meet in the Champions League Final for the second time in three years. Can Los Blancos record their 11th victory by beating their city rivals once again?
RONALDO GIVEN THE GREEN-LIGHT AS HE GOES FOR MORE RECORDS
For Real Madrid supporters all over the world, the week got off to a bad start when star player Cristiano Ronaldo pulled up in training with a suspected thigh injury. 18 hours later, and CR7 was out in front of the world’s media to play down any rumours that he was doubtful for Saturday’s night’s epic encounter, declaring that; “I am fine. I had a little problem in training, a dead leg as they say here, but I’ll be back either tomorrow or the next day, I will be fine. It was a minor scare, a knock”. His coach Zinedine Zidane backed up those statements when he announced that; “There will be no problem, he felt something when we had a game between us and he didn’t play as a precaution. He will be ready for Saturday and I think we are in good shape physically.” The 31-year-old is aiming to break his own Champions League record of 17 goals in a season at the weekend; he currently has 16 in this campaign and he is quoted at *6.50 on the best sports betting sites to score two or more on Saturday.
— Betfair (@Betfair) May 24, 2016
NAVAS AND RODRIGUEZ SET TO MAKE HISTORY
Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas and play-maker James Rodriguez will make history on Saturday night when they become the first players from Costa Rica and Colombia respectively, to appear in a Champions League Final. Whilst Navas looks set to take his place in the starting XI, Rodriguez, after a disappointing season, will have to settle for a place on the substitute’s bench. If you think that the 29-year-old custodian will celebrate by keeping a clean-sheet in 90 minutes, the best football betting sites are offering odds of *7.00 that the match will finish 0-0 after regulation time.
A photo posted by Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) on
TWO YEARS ON FROM LISBON; HOW ARE REAL MADRID LOOKING?
Seven of the Real Madrid team that beat Atletico in the 2014 final in Lisbon will be in the squad on Saturday; all four goalscorers in the 4-1 win two years ago, Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo are all still at the club. Naturally, there is a change at the helm after the man that led them to “La Decima,” Italian Carlo Ancelotti, was sacked the following season. Now it’s former French World Cup winner Zinédine Zidane’s turn to take the side to a final and the man who scored one of the greatest ever Champions League Final goals for Real Madrid back in 2002 against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park, is ready for the challenge. Should the 43-year old Frenchman manage to win the trophy on Saturday night, he will become the seventh man to win the European Cup as both player and coach.
REAL MADRID’S RECORD IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINALS
This will be Real’s 14th Champions League Final and as we stated earlier, they are looking for their 11th success in the competition. For the first five years of its inception as the European Cup, Los Blancos pretty much made the trophy their own by winning the first five finals between 1955 and 1960. This will be the club’s third appearance in European club footballs biggest tournament this millennium. Below is their complete finals record:
955/56: Real Madrid CF 4-3 Stade de Reims (Parc des Princes, Paris)
1956/57: Real Madrid CF 2-0 AC Fiorentina (Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid)
1957/58: Real Madrid CF 3-2 AC Milan (Heysel Stadium, Brussels)
1958/59: Real Madrid CF 2-0 Stade de Reims (Neckarstadion, Stuttgart)
1959/60: Real Madrid CF 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt (Hampden Park, Glasgow)
1961/62: SL Benfica 5-3 Real Madrid CF (Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam)
1963/64: FC Internazionale Milano 3-1 Real Madrid CF (Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna)
1965/66: Real Madrid CF 2-1 FK Partizan (Heysel Stadium, Brussels)
1980/81: Liverpool FC 1-0 Real Madrid CF (Parc des Princes, Paris)
1997/98: Real Madrid CF 1-0 Juventus (Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam)
1999/00: Real Madrid CF 3-0 Valencia CF (Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
2001/02: Real Madrid CF 2-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Hampden Park, Glasgow)
2013/14: Real Madrid CF 4-1 Club Atlético de Madrid **(aet) (Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon)
— Betadvisor (@BetAdvisor) May 26, 2016
Although they missed out on the Spanish League title to Barcelona by just one point, Real Madrid’s form going into the weekend could not be better, having won their last 12 league games, matching their best run since December 2014. Real picked up more points in the final 20 games of the season than any other team in La Liga. Zinédine Zidane has the best point’s total of any Madrid coach after 20 games; 17 wins, two draws and a defeat giving him 53 points. The importance of having a fit Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be emphasized enough, having scored four goals in his last two games and having become the first player to score 50 or more club goals for the sixth season in a row.
*CURRENT MATCH BETTING
Real Madrid 2.50 Draw 3.10 Atletico Madrid 3.30
*odds courtesy of bet365
Steve Mitchell @barafundler