Countdown to Milan – Champions League Special

User Review
0 (0 votes)

Preparations are underway ahead of the 2016 Champions League Final at the Stadio San Siro in Milan on May 28th. For the second time in two years, the match will be an all-Spanish affair and an all-Madrid affair, as Real and Atletico battle it out for European club footballs biggest prize.


The two clubs may come from the same country, even the same city, but their Champions League pedigrees could not be more different. Real Madrid are the most successful club in the competition’s history; 2014’s 4-1 win over Atletico giving them their 10th title. Their cross-town neighbours have reached the final twice, in 1974 and of course in 2014; both times they’ve suffered final heartbreak and they will be determined to set the record straight on May 28th. One record Los Colcheneros can enjoy with their more illustrious neighbours however is that this season’s final ensures that Madrid becomes the most successful city in the competitions history with 17 final appearances. Ironically, the city that it overtakes is Milan, who’s two clubs Inter and Milan, have appeared in 16.


Real Madrid has the most wins in this season’s competition, having claimed victory in nine of their 12 games en-route to the final. Atletico are three behind with six and Diego Simeone’s side have suffered three defeats compared to Real’s one. Los Blancos are the second highest scorers in this season’s competition with 27. Only Bayern Munich can boast more with 30. Once again, Atletico are well behind their city rivals having scored just 16. Real’s average shots on target per game this season is a staggering 20.58 and again, only Bayern can boast better figures; Atletico has the sixth best average with 14.83. Simeone’s team do finally get ahead of Zinedine Zidane’s charges in one statistic; unfortunately, it’s the one marked disciplinary but despite having a reputation as a physical unit, they have only had the one red-card in the competition and that was striker Fernando Torres’s one against Barcelona in the quarter-final. Real are yet to receive a dismissal in Europe this season.


If we examine where the final could be won or lost, two men dominate the discussion. Cristiano Ronaldo has had another scintillating season in the Spanish capital and in the Champions League; he has been unstoppable, scoring 16 goals so far, which is seven better than his nearest rival Robert Lewandowski. This strike-rate looks even more impressive when you look at his attempts on target over this period (37) meaning that CR7 has a 43% conversion rate. His main rival on the betting exchanges to be first goalscorer in the final, Antoine Griezmann has seven goals from the 12 games he’s played. His total attempts on target stands at 22 which gives the French international a strike-rate of 31%.



When we examine the two coaches’ respective records in this competition then it’s another resounding victory for Real. Zinedine Zidane has been a finalist on three occasions but has only one victory to his name; a 2-1 win in 2002 with Real against Bayer Leverkusen when he scored one the competitions all-time great goals at Hampden Park in Glasgow. His two previous final appearances were both with Juventus in 1997 and 1998. Borussia Dortmund defeated the Old Lady in Munich and the following season, his current club inflicted more pain on the Italian’s in Amsterdam. As a player, Diego Simeone never reached a Champions League Final; his only European success at club level being a Europa League triumph with Inter in 1998. As coach of Atletico, he won the same competition in 2012 before losing the 2014 Champions League Final to Real in Lisbon.


This season’s final will be the seventh time that there’s been a replay of a previous showpiece and whilst Atletico will go to the San Siro as underdogs, they will be able to take a small crumb of comfort from previous teams who have had better luck second time around. The most famous of all would be Milan’s revenge on Liverpool in 2007 after their incredible collapse two-years earlier in Istanbul, when they squandered a 3-0 half-time advantage. Add to this Juve’s 1996 win over Ajax, which erased memories of a bitter defeat way back in 1973 and the Dutch side’s 1990 triumph over Benfica that cancelled out their 1963 defeat. Unfortunately for Simeone and company, on the other four occasions, the side that won the previous meeting went on to claim victory once again.


Atletico Madrid can now focus all their attention on the May 28 final after last weekend’s defeat to Levante left them out of the Spanish title race. After the game, Simeone remained upbeat stating that he was “Proud” of his players for the season they had had so far. Real on the other hand, go into the final round of fixtures just a point behind bitter rival Barcelona. Whilst the overwhelming support on the best football betting websites will be for the Catalan side who travel to Granada, Zidane knows that his team must concentrate on doing their job at Deportivo La Coruna and hope the other result goes their way.  Their city rivals on the other hand, will be in front of their television sets doing some last-minute scouting on their final opponents; as the countdown to Milan continues.



Steve Mitchell @barafundler