May 22, 1050 days ago

2014 Champions League Final preview

2014 Champions League Final preview

For the first time in European Cup history, this year’s final sees two teams from the same city face one another. Real Madrid take on neighbours Atlético in the Champions League final in one of the highest profile local derbies in football history.

Real are the favourites as they chase their tenth European Cup triumph while Atlético have never won the tournament. But, having secured the La Liga title with a draw at Barcelona, can Atlético win an unprecedented double? Keep reading for our preview.

The most unexpected story in European soccer this season

Back in August, the argument between pundits was whether Real Madrid or Barcelona would win the La Liga title. No-one gave perennial underachievers Atlético Madrid – or, indeed, any other side – a hope considering the nearest that a third place team in Spain had come to breaking the Real/Barca duopoly in the previous five years had been 17 points.

Atlético have stunned everyone. A win in last year’s Copa del Rey final ended a 25 match unbeaten run against their Madrid neighbours and a Diego Costa goal gave them a famous league win at the Bernebeu in September. Diego Simeone’s side held their nerve as the season drew to an end and a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp saw them take the title for the first time since 1996.

And, it’s not just domestically that Atlético have been brilliant. Their route to the Champions League final has seen them eliminate Porto, Zenit St Petersburg, AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea and so they certainly deserve to feature in the showpiece event – their first since a 4-0 defeat to Bayern in 1974. They are 13/8 to win their first Champions League.

Real Madrid’s European pedigree and their demolition of reigning champions Bayern Munich in the semi-final makes them 1/2 to win the Champions League. It would be ‘la decima’ – a tenth European Cup for Real – and their first since Zinedine Zidane’s wonderstrike helped them lift the Cup in 2002.

However, their form since the 5-0 win over Bayern has been patchy at best. Defender Sergio Ramos admitted after their recent 2-0 loss to Celta Vigo that ‘after a great season in this competition the team wasn’t up to scratch and we’ve let the Liga slip away from us in a very poor way. We can’t complain or let our heads go down.’

Real to lift their tenth European Cup

On paper this is one of the most intriguing finals in years. Atlético have the recent European final experience – they won the Europa League in 2010 and 2012 – and the recent better results over their Madrid rivals.

However, Real’s performance in the semi-final was one of the season’s best and they have a wealth of talent to call on. The crucial difference between the sides could be that Carlo Ancelotti’s injured players – Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema and Pepe – should be fit to return for the match while Atlético’s – Diego Costa and Turan – may not.

The loss of talismanic striker Costa could be a massive blow to Atlético and the key factor in what should be a tight contest. While a first Champions League triumph for Atlético would end a fairytale season, Real look set to finally win that elusive ‘decima’ in Lisbon and Gareth Bale could well be the man to watch.

Bale is 6/1 to net the first goal and you can back a Bale first goal and 2-0 win for Real at 30/1.

And, if the Welshman scores anytime in 90 minutes, we will refund all losing First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, Correct Score and Scorecast singles on this match as a free bet.

Champions League Final betting

 

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