Champions League Final: Do The Madridista Deserve To Be There?
This season’s champions league has been a bit of an odd ball. It was the first time we saw Manchester City get to a semi-final and only the second time in the past 10 years that Barcelona has failed to reach a semi. Instead of attacking prowess we have seen defensive stability get Atletico Madrid to the final. For Real Madrid? Luck. If we praise teams for playing creative and expansive football, then you have to ask the question, do the two Madrid clubs really deserve to be there?
Another European cup final for Real. Their 14th overall and a chance to repeat the feat they accomplished when winning ‘La Decima.’ It has been a topsy turvy season for the club, appointing Rafa has been deemed a big mistake and the team looked dead and buried in all competitions only five months ago in December. But now they find themselves in a Champions League final.
Compared with Atleti it has been a much easier run to get themselves to Milan. A group containing Shaktar Donetsk, Malmo and Paris St Germain was hardly going to be troublesome for a team worth nearly £500 million. The Parisians were the only team who took any points from Real. After that came tests from Roma, Wolfsburg and Manchester City. Considered a relatively easy route Madrid came past Roma without producing anything special before being taken apart in Germany by Wolfsburg. The Bundesliga side produced a great performance at the Volkswagen Arena to beat Real 2-0. It was only a special performance from Cristiano Ronaldo and a hat-trick at the Bernabeu, which saved Real their blushes.
Up next came Manchester City, who produced some brilliant European performances to get themselves to the semis in the first place. Although City didn’t play well at all, were Madrid much better? They won via a solitary deflected goal and watching the game it felt like it was the stature of the club which allowed them to intimidate City.
Since the arrival of Diego Simeone the club has transformed astronomically. He has taken Atleti to a new level, winning the Europa League, Copa Del Rey and La Liga. They beat Real in the Copa final as well as snatching the title from Barcelona.
Argentine Simeone has built his success on a solid defence, hardworking players and an insatiable attitude which has inspired the whole club. There is no doubting that Atleti had a tough run to the final. After a fairly compromising group consisting of, Benfica, Astana and Galatasaray, Atleti faced Dutch champions PSV. After two 0-0 draws it was only a penalty shoot-out out at the Vincente Calderon, that could get Atletico through. However, after some sturdy yet uninspiring performances they came up against the giants of Barcelona. The Catalans were in phenomenal form, having not lost for 39 games and even though they beat Atleti 2- 1 at the Nou Camp, there was always optimism from Simeone. Atletico then produced one of the best defensive displays ever seen in beating Barcelona 2-0 to go through to the semi-final. Next up was Bayern Munich, who appeared an even bigger threat than Barca. After a tremendous solo goal from Saul Niguez in the first leg, it was Antoine Griezmman’s effort which put Atleti through on away goals.
Although Atletico averaged 30% possession in both those matches it was the defensive prowess which helped them prevail.
Although Real Madrid are favourites for the title, Atleti have already proved that being defensive and tactically outplaying the opposition deserves to get you to a final.