WHO WINS THE 2015/2016 #CHAMPIONSLEAGUE FINALS TONIGHT?

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In the words of Thomas Dooley, who said “In Europe, it’s different – you eat soccer, you breathe soccer, you drink soccer. Everything is about soccer” and this is apt in the premier European club competition, the UEFA Champions League.

The Champions League is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football. The allure of European football is so enticing that every soccer player on earth dreams of playing in the competition to feel satisfied and maybe successful along the way. It’s indeed an elite competition.

Having a Champions League medal in one’s collection of trophy is enough motivation for past winners and extra motivation for those who have never won it. So, a lot is at stake for both Madrid teams tonight.

The fact that both teams are within ten miles of each other and will want to have the bragging rights over the other will see to an intense match. In recent times, Atletico Madrid have defeated their derby rivals in La Liga matches. We say the Whites have only defeated their rivals once in the last ten matches.

Ever since Atletico became the noisy neighbours under fiery Argentine manager, Diego Simeone there has been far more fireworks between the rivals. The once friendly rivalry became a heated affair as Simeone put all out to end the 11 year unbeaten run against Madrid. It should be noted that from 2002 to 2013, Los Rojiblancos never won a single league match.

For the last two weeks, the city of Madrid has been turned into centre of the beautiful game, the capital of European football as it’s the only city to have been represented by two teams in a European Cup final, and now it is about to happen for a second time in three years.

The city of Madrid as a whole has seen a tremendous increase in economic activities. Souvenirs, memorabilia amongst others things representing Madrid City have been on sale and indeed it’s the capital of European football.

It’s the general belief that Spanish football is the leading footballing nation in Europe and the world in general. In competitions around the continent, Spanish teams have proved their mettle in most recent times, busy clearing anything in their paths. It’s not surprising in the past three seasons, Spanish teams have won the champions league as well as Europa league.

However, today is another day for another European champion to be crowned between the two Spanish sides in 10-times champion, Real Madrid and neighbour, Atletico Madrid. Today’s game will be a repeat of 2014/15 finals which Los Blancos won 4-1 during extra-time. It will really be hard to determine who win the trophy tonight. Atletico Madrid will want to prevent another loss and own the bragging rights while Real Madrid will want to redeem their ‘battered ‘season and claim an unprecedented 11th European trophy, a.k.a ‘Undecima’.

Just as Mario Balotelli once opined, ‘Sometimes in football you deserve to win but lose. Other times you deserve to lose or draw but you win. That is the game and it’s why I’ve always said you should never try to predict anything in football”

However, the odds have been stacked up against Atletico Madrid not to win the finals with Real Madrid the favourites despite the fact that the men in whites have never won a match in San Siro stadium, the venue for today’s match. It will be the fourth time the European Cup has been decided at the stadium after 1965, 1970 and 2001. The arena, first opened in 1926, is home to both AC Milan and Internazionale Milano.

Let’s take a look at some of the statistics surrounding both teams. Real Madrid have won the competition a record 10 times and have been runner ups, three times in 1962, 1964 and 1981 while Atletico Madrid have never won it but have been runner ups, twice in 1974 and 2014.

The leading goal scorer in the competition is Cristiano Ronaldo with 93 goals in 126 games and this season alone, he has 16 goals, 4 assists in 989 minutes of play. He is a goal shy of the record he set when Real Madrid won the trophy two years ago.

Antonie Griezmann leads the goal scoring chart for Atletico Madrid player s with 7 goals and 1 assist in 1013 minutes of play goals. Maybe Ronaldo will break or match his record. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Atletico have lost only one of their last 10 matches against Real Madrid since the 2014 Champions League final.

Real Madrid have scored just two goals in their last five matches against Atletico.

In a vox populi conducted, a large section rooted for Atletico Madrid to win and most are Barcelona fans. The El Classico rivalry has been extended to the Madrid Derby and that isn’t surprising a bit.

A quick look at the uefa.com, as of 2015–16, the association awards €2 million ($2.3m) to the play-offs winners and €3 million ($3.4m) to the eliminated clubs in the play-off round. For reaching the group stage, UEFA awards a base fee of €12 million ($13.7m). A win in the groups is awarded with €1.5 million ($1.7m) and a draw is worth €500,000 ($558,875). In addition, UEFA pays teams reaching the first knockout round €5.5 million ($6.1m), each quarter-finalist €6 million ($6.7m), €7 million ($7.7m) for each semi-finalist, €10.5 million ($11.7m)for the runners-up and €15 million ($16.7m) for the winners.

Let’s bring to you top moments where in both teams have met in the past. Thanks to YouTube for making this easier for us. Top of the list was on May 13, 1959 in a game that Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid 2-1. This was actually the very first ever meeting between the two Madrid sides as three matches were needed to decide the first meeting between the sides in European competition in the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1959. Real won the first leg 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu before Atletico levelled the tie two weeks later with a 1-0 victory. In the days before the away goals rule, Real won a play-off held in Zaragoza 2-1 thanks to goals from the legendary Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas on their way to winning the competition for a fourth consecutive season.

On October 30, 1999, Los Rojiblancos defeated Los Blancos three goals to one in what was to become the worst season in Atletico’s history as they were relegated from the top flight, there was one moment of glory for Los Rojiblancos as one of just nine league victories that season came at the Bernabeu thanks to two goals from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and another from Jose Mari after Fernando Morientes’ opener for Real.

The rivalry continued to Copa del Rey on May 17, 2013, this time again, Real Madrid lost 1-2 after extra time. It took another 14 years and 25 derbies for Atletico to taste victory over Real, but they ended that painful run in style by winning the Copa del Rey on Real’s patch at the Bernabeu. Atletico were forced to come from behind as Cristiano Ronaldo headed Real in front, but Diego Costa quickly levelled and Miranda handed Atletico a 10th Cup win when he glanced home Koke’s cross in extra time. This was the resurgence of Atletico Madrid.

The rivalry went a notch higher in what was intense in Lisbon, Portugal as Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid 4-1 after extra-time in the Champions League final on May 24, 2014. Atletico were denied their first ever Champions League in agonising circumstances as Sergio Ramos rose highest to power home an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time after Diego Godin had given Atletico a first-half lead. Real then ran riot in extra-time with Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo all netting to deliver Los Blancos’ long-awaited 10th European Cup.

Not long after the painful defeat to its rivals, Los Rojiblancos were again defeated in Europe on April 22, 2015 as Los Blancos shattered a seven-game winless streak against Atletico thanks to Javier Hernandez’s goal a minute from time to seal a 1-0 aggregate win after Arda Turan’s red card had left Atletico down to 10 men.

So apart from the bragging rights and history to be made, there is cool cash to be made. Which club will want to lose huge amount of money? None but one. So the big question is who will earn the money? By 10:45 pm, we will know the winner. Sit tight and enjoy the match.

•Sport writer/blogger • Media strategist •Good citizen of Nigeria and Social Media Evangelist and a core die hard Real Madrid fan.

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