UCL Final 2014: Three things that could decide the Madrid deby game in Lisbon
The eventualities of Champions League finals aren’t many, if you go by the precedents of history. Long have they been swayed either by one swing of an almighty boot or one silly error of a referee’s judgment, not to mention the various other tiny facets that changed the game for good. Madrid derby takes center-stage in Lisbon in the final act of a gruelling season, and what fitting way than a Champions League final to sign it all off. Real Madrid chase La Decima while city rivals Atletico Madrid chase the proverbial zenith of their long and illustrious history. Both teams look good on paper, but as stated before, these games are swayed by one moment of greatness or madness. Here we look at the three things that could decide which side of Madrid the gong goes to.
- REAL MADRID’S ATTACKING POTENCY
Real Madrid have spent fortunes to reach this stage, and after a 12-year-long wait, they are almost there. The tenth European Cup beckons, and should they win it, they would’ve done it the most insane way possible. As if breaking the bank for Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t enough, Gareth Bale was shipped in too this year and this has ushered in a devastating front three of Ronaldo, Bale and the much-maligned Karim Benzema who happens to find his way in their tandem. Factor in the brilliant Angel di Maria and you could be searching for cover to stop a rout. Real have broken all sorts of scoring records in the Champions League this season, with Ronaldo himself taking a big piece of the cake by breaking individual records. Real Madrid’s greater and more potent attacking wealth has taken them this far, and it would be unwise to not bank on them yet again.
- XABI ALONSO’S BIG DAY OFF
As if it was all written in the stars. Xabi Alonso had hands on his head the moment the rashly felled Bastian Schweinsteiger, more in repentance than in pain that he would miss the big day in Lisbon. Not a personal travesty as Alonso has already played in two finals for Liverpool previously, but it will be Real who will live to rue his naivety. Without Alonso, the midfield battle favours Atletico; his calming influence and visionary intelligence is poorly compensated by the likes of Luka Modric or Asier Illarramendi. But stranger things have happened before; remember Paul Scholes and Roy Keane missing the 1999 final for Manchester United but they still landed winners medals. That’s some reason for hope, but La Real will be significantly weaker without the inspirational Alonso.
- THE OCCASSION
Many a big team let the magnitude of an occasion get under their skin. The same goes for both the teams that will feature in the final. Atletico Madrid could have lot less riding on their minds as they take the field, but it could provide a huge stumbling block to their cross-town rivals. La Decima has been an obsession for Real which even Fiorentino Perez’s money couldn’t buy, and they have come too close this time to not take the trophy back to the Bernabeu cabinets. And talk of the event getting the better of you, it provides the best chance to for the so-called men to separate themselves from the boys. The stage is set for the Ronaldos and Costas, the Kokes and Modrics; and nerves could even be the most important factor that defines and decides the match.
- THE OCCASSION
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