just an All-Spanish Final, but El Derbi Madrileño as well
The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid marks the fifth final between clubs from a single nation, second one-nation final in as many seasons. However, it’s the first ever final between city rivals, known to all avid soccer fans the world over as the infamous El Derbi Madrileño.
The current sports-betting landscape tips wholeheartedly towards Real Madrid. Of course, they are the bigger, richer, better-known club with more Champions League experience than their so-called lesser, cross-town rivals. And they’ve been on the verge of the Champions League final in their three previous campaigns, only to stumble in the semis. So it’s not surprising they’ve received the favourable nod: Los Blancos are listed as the clear favourites at -175 to win outright in futures betting markets while Los Rojiblancos enter as the marginal underdogs at +138.
But in match-betting markets, it’s somewhat less one-sided with both Madrid clubs tipped just a smidgen above even money. Real are still listed as the favourites, albeit at +110 soccer odds, while Atleti weigh in as the +240 underdogs.
Real Madrid have won this competition nine times. But not since 2001/2002 when a Zinedine Zidane inspired Los Blancos beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in Hampden Park, Glasgow. They are now on the verge of an incredible 10th title and finally ending a 12-year European Cup drought.
Indeed, the club has been doing everything towards this end in recent years, including the acquisition of Gareth Bale ((a colossal splurge) and bringing in Carlo Ancelotti this season. And this year, it’s all finally come together nicely as they are through to the final following a convincing run through the competition and the mesmerising play of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real went 5-1-0 in group action – only Juventus proved tough to beat in Turin. In the knockout stages, Real decimated Schalke 9-2 on aggregate in the R16. In the quarterfinals, they were sorely tested by Borussia Dortmund (last year’s finalists) in a 3-2 victory on aggregate, as the Black and Yellows came back to within a goal in the reverse leg and very nearly drew level to force extra time. In the semi-finals, it was a more clinical, focused Real however that routed Bayern Munich (last year’s champions no less) 5-0 on aggregate.
To all intents and purposes, Atletico Madrid have punched above their weight class in the completion and defied the odds to reach the ultimate round. Few had Atleti pencilled in at this stage of the competition in their mock draws, not least odds makers who had them priced amongst some of the long shots of the competition from the start. Tale told, Atleti are through to the final and are a match win away from winning their first-ever European Cup title.
This isn’t the first time Atleti are through to the showpiece final. They were here once before, in 1974 when they lost to Bayern Munich. But seeing that was well over 40 years ago it has hardly any bearing on this clash.
Atleti strode through group action confidently, winning Group G handily and with two games to spare. In the knockout stages, they ousted AC Milan 5-1 on aggregate in the R16. Then they sent seismic shockwaves through soccer-betting markets by edging past Barcelona 2-1 in the quarterfinals and upsetting Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge (which proved to be the score on aggregate as well after the first leg settled on a scoreless draw).
Real Madrid’s credentials are undeniable and for good reason they are the popular soccer pick amongst bettors. Heck, they could have won this competition three times already this decade had they not fallen in the semis. By that same token however, it only proves just how difficult it is to win this coveted competition. So Real Madrid can’t take anything for granted even if they are the favourites in futures markets at -175 soccer odds.
Atleti are enjoying a bit of a giant-killing spree and just because they are the +138 underdogs doesn’t mean they can’t turn the odds in their favour. So if you are inclined towards the Madrid upstarts, take them on your soccer picks by all means. After all, they are leading La Liga right now and they’ve maintained an undefeated record against Real in league action. The only hiccup was the Copa Del Rey where they lost 5-0 on aggregate to Real (the eventual champions). But – let’s face it – this is an entirely different ball game with a lot more at stake, not least of which bragging rights in Spain and Europe proper.
More often than not in huge billings such as this one is clearly, everything gets chucked out of the window: stats, key facts, past records...the lot. Matches such as these aren’t played on paper. The occasion alone rules and it’s anybody’s game to win. For our money however we quite fancy Real Madrid to win this match at +110 soccer odds. No disrespect to Atleti – nor is this to say they can’t prove us wrong – but Real Madrid have more experience in this competition having come so close in recent seasons so they should handle the occasion better. The way they routed Bayern Munich was simply gauntlet throwing. Finally, this is going to be a homecoming for Cristiano Ronaldo with the final set to be hosted in Lisbon, Portugal. And if there ever were a game-changing player, he’s up there amongst some of the best.
Soccer Free Picks: Real Madrid to win outright at -175; Real Madrid to win match at +110