Match Odds: Real Madrid 6/4, The Draw 21/10, Atletico Madrid 23/10
Cup Winner Odds: Real Madrid 3/4, Atletico Madrid 11/10
It seems every shrewdie and his truffle hound wants to be on Atletico Madrid ahead of the 2016 Champions League Final in Milan.
From the quality of the big-game scalps Diego Simeone’s men have claimed en route to the San Siro showpiece to their superb record against their supposed cross-capital overlords, there’s plenty to like.
Moreover, their defensive diligence and sheer all-for-one-and-one-for-all intensity are unparalleled at this level of European football.
Double-treble seeking Barcelona were the first Champions League favourites beheaded by Los Colchoneros’ 11-bladed guillotine, while Bayern Munich suffered the same fate after assuming the mantle ahead of the semi-finals.
By way of contrast, Zinedine Zidane’s bluebloods have squeezed past Wolfsburg and Manchester City, each by a single goal, to book their tickets to the party.
The Santiago-Bernabeu side are favourites for victory and to be crowned kings of Europe by any means, despite beating Atleti just once in their last ten attempts.
Meanwhile, their rivals are considered underdogs despite a defence so cast-iron that it could be a case study in a criminal law casebook.
Lead by Diego Godin QC and towering Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak, they’ve shipped a mere 18 times in 38 La Liga outings this term and allowed Los Blancos a solitary goal across their last five meetings.
Yet, it’s impossible to escape the nagging doubt that Real are capable of bursting the Clasico-cartel-smashing underdogs’ bubble, just as they did in 2014, when equalising in the 93rd minute before overwhelming their tired foes in extra time.
Few would dispute they possess the greater attacking flair, while they’ve also prevailed in their last two Champions League tussles with Simeone’s terriers.
Luckily for Atleti, there is at least one major difference between this year’s final and their agonising near miss with ‘Old Big Ears’ two summers ago…
Win, Lose or Draw?
Wise owls tipping outsiders Atletico for victory on the back of their superb recent record against Real, neglect to the acknowledge that said record is only so brilliant if they are still considered to be genuine underdogs.
From a betting perspective it’s hard to really see them as such given their ability to consistently deny Los Merengues victory in recent seasons.
It’s also hard to back them for the win given they’ve actually only won two of their last six showdowns with the side Zinedine Zidane inherited in January.
Throw the Colchoneros’ recent Champions League losses to Real into the mix and it becomes even harder, however there is at least one reason they can prove more dangerous than they were in the 2014 final.
In Lisbon, Atleti lost a barely fit Diego Costa to injury after a mere nine minutes and spent the rest of the game with their backs to the wall and little in the way of an attacking outlet capable of making their foes think twice.
This time around they have the lively, lithe and lethal Antoine Griezmann in fine form and his presence should lead to less time battening down the hatches.
Since Atleti pounded Los Blancos 4-0 at Vicente Calderon back in February 2015, the latter have clearly been taking their attacking threat more seriously.
The subsequent four Derbi madrilenos between the sides have all sent the spoils the way of under-2.5-goals backers.
It’s just 57/100 that the final’s first 90 minutes follow suit, but, with three of the last four meetings between featuring one strike or fewer, the 7/4 about less than two finding the net holds a greater allure.
Who will do the damage?
The 23/4 shot No Goalscorer has struck as often as any other player across the sides’ last four duels.
However, Griezmann netted the winner in their most recent encounter and has found a way to procure the vital goals in each of the last two rounds of this competition. If anyone is capable of prising open the deadlock then it’s him.
The last four Champions League finals have each seen at least one goal scored after the 82nd-minute.