Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid lock horns again in the final of the Champions League on Saturday in a repeat of the 2014 final in Lisbon. The circumstances are slightly different this time around though with both teams yet to win a trophy this season and this being their final opportunity.
It is testament to how far Atleti have come under Diego Simeone that defeat on Saturday may leave them reflecting with some disappointment on a campaign that has seen them knock Barcelona and Bayern Munich out of Europe and again push the ‘big two’ close in La Liga.
It would though mean Atleti would end a season without a trophy for the first time under the Argentine and this time they won’t have the safety blanket of a league title to fall back on as was the case two years ago.
Real Madrid’s victory over their local rivals in Lisbon meant a 10th European Cup win and the fact that they’d failed to finish in the top two in Spain for the first time in a decade was almost completely glossed over.
The Madridistas’ biggest craving
Europe’s premier cup competition has always been the one that Madridistas have craved the most and to that extent, the many low-points of this campaign will suddenly be brushed off if Zinedine Zidane can lead his side to glory in Milan.
Despite Real Madrid ultimately taking the title race to the final day, their domestic season was nothing but a failure. Expulsion from the Copa del Rey once again brought ridicule to one of the world’s most famous football clubs and with Barcelona clinching the domestic double for the second season in a row, they are left relying as so often has been the case, on the Champions League for any kind of salvation.
There are no grey areas this time around. The winners will head back to the Spanish capital with the trophy and a huge celebration, while the losers will reflect on a disappointing night and a season sadly lacking in silverware.
Cementing their iconic statuses
The winning coach will further cement their status as iconic figures at their respective clubs. For Simeone, it’s a chance to complete the set given he has already won all three domestic competitions and two of the three European competitions during his four and a half years at the Vicente Calderon.
For Zidane, it’s a chance to emulate Miguel Muñoz, the only previous man to have won this competition as a Real Madrid player and later as a coach.
The stakes couldn’t be higher as the two clubs gear up for a game that will ultimately define their seasons.
Real Madrid have won just one of the 10 Madrid derbies since they beat Atleti in Lisbon, but according to football betting odds at William Hill will still go into the game as slight favourites although in truth it is a match that is likely to be settled by the finest of margins and could go either way.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
Like O-Posts on Facebook
You can also follow O-Posts on Twitter @OPosts