UEFA Champions League Final Preview: Our Best Soccer Picks & Props

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 12:24 PM GMT

Let’s investigate and offer up some soccer picks for this high level final match between Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid. Don't make a move without reading this article.

UEFA Champions League Final Information and Odds
Real Madrid CF vs. Atlético Madrid, San Siro, Milan, Italy

Weather Forecast, Thunderstorms likely (90% chance Rain), Low 64° (Fahrenheit), Light and Variable NE Winds around 5 mph

US Odds: Real Madrid +140, Atletico Madrid +220, Draw +210 (Bet365)
US Total: Over 2½ +140, Under 2½ -187 (Bet365)
Fractional Odds: Real Madrid 7/5, Atlético Madrid 11/5, Draw 21/10 (Bet365)
Fractional Total: Over 2½ 7/5, Under 2½ 8/15 (Bet365)
Decimal Odds: Real Madrid 2.40, Atlético Madrid 3.20, Draw 3.1 (Bet365)
Decimal Total: Over 2½ 2.40, Under 2½ 1.53 (Bet365)
Draw No Bet: Real Madrid -130, Atlético Madrid +110 (Bet365)
First Half Odds: Real Madrid +220, Atlético Madrid +275, Draw +100 (Bet365)
UEFA CL Winner: Real Madrid Pick -140, Atlético Madrid Pick +120 (Bovada)
Asian Handicap: Real Madrid -1 +310, Atlético Madrid +1 -444 (Bet365)
Asian Handicap: Real Madrid +1 -769, Atlético Madrid -1 +500 (Bet365)
Projected Real Madrid Starting XI:—Navas; Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Carvajal; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Bale, CR7, Benzema
Projected Atlético Madrid Start XI—Oblak; Juanfran, Godín, Giménez, Luís; Saúl, Gabi, Fernández, Koke; Torres, Griezmann

This Beat Goes On: Spanish Domination in UEFA Tournaments Continues
The Iberian Peninsula gets to hold its heads high again this Spring with yet another UEFA double locked down with city rivals Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid meeting again here in the UEFA Champions League Final for the second time in the last three years and Sevilla having already beaten English Premier League side Liverpool, 3-1 last Saturday at St. Jakob-Park in Basel, Switzerland to win their third straight Europa League championship and fifth overall and bring yet another trophy back to España. And with Barcelona having won the UEFA Champions League last year (over Juventus), we have to go all the way back to 2012/13 to find a non-Spanish winner of (both) the Europa and Champions League trophies (Champions League: Fußball-Club Bayern München, Europa League: Chelsea) meaning that four members of the best Soccer league on the planet—Spain’s La Liga—will have delivered the L6 champions in both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League ... and Manager Diego Simeone and Atlético Madrid are still looking for that first piece of recent Silverware, although Los Rojiblancos (and Diego Costa) won the UEFA Europa League in 2011/12 topping fellow La Liga side (of course), Athletic Bilbao, 3-0 in Bucharest, Romania in that Final.
If familiarity does indeed breed contempt, then Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid may have enough ill will toward each other to cover the entire Iberian peninsula and maybe the entire European continent. And if fighting to be the best club even in your city or county or province or country wasn’t hard enough enough, Los Blancos and Los Rojiblancos again have to fight to see which one in the best club in the world, even though this is technically “just” the European championship.

Everyone who knows this Sport by whatever name they choose (or have to) call it knows that this is the game that determines who is truly the best club in the world. Ball don’t lie. The number of fans watching, the amount of salaries involved and the amount of money wagered on this particular match and this prestigious tournament says it all. This annual UEFA Champions League Final is quite simply the king of all games in all sports. All, as in all.

 

Atlético Madrid 
Atlético Madrid (28-4-6, 63 GF-18 GA, 88 points, finished in 3rd in La Liga) and Manager Diego Simeone find themselves in a familiar situation against a familiar foe and the more that Los Rojiblancos treat this one just like another match in another place against its city rivals, the better. When these two met at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid on Feb. 27, Simeone had a back four lining up in front of GK Jan Oblak of Diego Godín, José Giménez, Filipe Luís and Juanfran with Augusto Fernández, Gabi, Koke (14 assists, 5 goals in La Liga) and Saúl Ñíguez (4 goals) in the Central and Advanced Midfield spots in his usual 4-4-2 tactical formation with Strikers Antoine Griezmann (22 goals in la Liga) and longtime Atleti fan-favorite Fernando Torres (11 goals) up top. Frenchman Griezmann (Man of the Match 6/1, BetVictor) ended up having the only goal of the match in that meeting at the 53-minute mark. In this game, 24-four-year-old AMF Koke (Man of the Match 16/1, BetVictor) may end up being the most important player on the pitch for Los Rojiblancos and if Atlético Madrid (16/1 to win 2017 UEFA Champions League, Bet365) wins this Champions League title, 24-year-old Spanish playmaker Koke will probably be a big part of the reason why. And Atlético Madrid also has others on its Roster who may feature here including Forward Ángel Correa (1 goal, Champions League; +370 Anytime Goalscorer,888Sport), Belgian Winger Yannick Carrasco (+509 Anytime Goalscorer, 888Sport) and CMFs Óliver Torres and the extremely talented Gabi.

The Defensive-minded Los Rojiblancos and 23-year-old Slovenian GK sensation Oblak registered an amazing 35 Clean Sheets in 56 matches this season including impressive Shutouts of Lionel Messi and La Liga champions Barcelona (3/1 to win 2017 UEFA Champions League, Coral) and perennial Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich (4/1 to win 2017 UEFA Champions League, Bet365) in this tournament’s Quarterfinal and Semifinal stages respectively. And that’s really saying something. If you can beat Barça and mighty Bayern back-to-back and keep them both off the scoreboard, then you have truly mastered your craft and Manager Diego Simeone deserves credit and his side will have the Coaching Edge at a potentially rainy San Siro. Thirty-five year-old Portuguese MF Tiago (Leg) is the only Injured player for Atléti according to the UEFA.com website.

 

Real Madrid CF 
Real Madrid (28-6-4, 110 GF-34 GA, 2nd place in La Liga) and new Manager and footballing legend Zinedine Zidane fell a point short (91-90) of catching their other heated rivals, Barcelona, atop the La Liga table this season, so, like city rival Atlético, the only way Madrid can exorcise that particular demon (and one up it) is by winning the UEFA Champions League title here in Italy on Saturday night. And of course, for both, that means (again) having to try to go through each other to achieve that end and if two teams in professional sports are really sick of seeing each other right about now, it has to be Los Blancos and Los Rojiblancos. Why, it’s you again? And Real Madrid (+450 to win 2017 UEFA Champions League, Bet365) will really have its work cut out for them with that potential Rain in the Forecast for Milan and Atlético only allowing Real Madrid to beat them just one time in the L10 attempts since CR7 (record 93 Champions League goals) and Los Blancos lifted the trophy is Lisbon, Portugal two years ago under then-Manager Carlo Ancelotti. In that aforementioned 1-0 La Liga loss at the Bernabéu in the Spanish capital in late February—Zidane’s first and only league Loss in 4 months with Real Madrid—the new Manager had a Starting XI of: GK Keylor Navas, a back four of Sergio Ramos, Raphaël Varane, Danilo and Daniel Carvajal, a MF of Toni Kroos, Isco, Luka Modric with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and James Rodríguez up top in scoring Forward and Striker roles.

On Tuesday it was learned that French Defender Varane (Knee) would reportedly be missing this match and that Adil Rami would be taking his place although Ramos and Pepe will likely be Los Blancos starting Center Backs. And Ronaldo (Thigh) pooh-poohed rumors his leg was still hurting him after leaving Training on Tuesday after a knock with GK Kiko Casilla with the 43-year-old French Manager Zidane saying, “He [Ronaldo] will be ready for Saturday and I think we are in good shape physically.” Which sounds like it means like he’s way less than 100% and that Madrid wants to downplay CR7’s persistent Leg issues. So keep your eye on Ronaldo and his stride and movement early on, especially those planning on getting involved with In-Game Wagering, which Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said on Tuesday on Las Vegas radio would be available for this massive game at his Sin City sportsbook on Saturday afternoon. Defender Marcelo, speedy young AMFs Gareth Bale (+250 Anytime Goalscorer, BetVictor) and Isco (+700 Anytime Goalscorer, 888Sport) and Forward Jesé (+390 Anytime Goalscorer, 888Sport) may all play big parts in this match for Madrid as obviously will 34-year-old superstar Ronaldo (16 goals, Champions League this season) who will looking to top his own record of 17 Champions League goals. CR7 got that UEFA Champions League season-record 17th goal when these two met in this game two years ago in Portugal as the eventual European champions ran out 4-1 winners in that Extra Time period. The UEFA.com website reports Forward Benzema (Thigh) and MF Casemio (Hip) are both Injured heading in here, although Benzema, who was also recovering from a Hamstring issue, and Casemiro could and should both start in this game, especially Benzema (Anytime Goalscorer +210, BetVictor).

 

Series Trends, Best Betting Approaches and Final Thoughts
Seeing a Draw line priced at +210 (Bet365) is almost like a signal from the oddsmakers that this game will be tighter-than-tight and that maybe Extra Time (again) or maybe even a (dreaded but loved) Penalty Kick Shootout may be needed to determine the new (Spanish) European title holders. In handicapping Soccer matches for years, it’s hard to remember seeing a Draw price so low with +220 usually around the lowest number soccer odds makers seem to post in perceived close matches—even in South America and other low-scoring Soccer leagues where game Totals are often set at 2. So, this one is logically perceived to be close, low-scoring with minimal quality shots on both targets as conventional wisdom says the only way that Atlético Madrid can hang with Real Madrid is to play lockdown Defense from the start and hope for a break or two on the counterattack, hopefully resulting in a Antoine Griezmann (7 goals in Champions League) or Fernando Torres (Anytime Goalscorer +294, 888Sport) goal. It could be argued that this year’s versions of both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid are not quite as talented as the two sides which met two years ago. In that match in 2014 which went to Extra Time and saw Los Blancos explode for a 4-1 win and the European title, Atlético Madrid headed in an unbeaten 4-3-0 (11 GF-4 GA) against Real Madrid in all competitions as one of if not the grittiest groups in professional football with maybe the sport’s best Manager hung with and often out-played their city rivals until Extra Time served up a cold and cruel dose of Reality. And that could happen again Saturday where it seems Extra Time or a PK Shootout would probably more benefit 2014 champions Real Madrid.

When these two met two years ago, it appears Atlético Madrid had a much stronger and more prolific Roster with Chelsea-loanee Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) as its starting GK, Striker Diego Costa (Chelsea), playmaker extraordinaire David Villa (NYCFC, MLS), Arda Turan (Barcelona), Raúl Garcia (Athletic Bilbao), Adrián López (Villarreal), Mario Suárez (Watford) and Mario Mandžukic (Juventus) all now long gone, leaving this team to rely upon its Defense even more. Lifetime, Real Madrid is 4-1-1 (9 GF-4 GA) against Atlético Madrid in UEFA Champions League play while Los Blancos were 0-1-1 against Madrid in last year’s Champions League Quarterfinal round (RM 1-0 AM, AM 0-0 RM) but 1-1-0 against their city rivals in La Liga play this season (RM 0-1 AM, AM 1-1 RM). The way this one looks from a distance, it seems Real Madrid should possess the ball around 60% of the time, placing the onus on Atlético to constantly try to defend perfectly and with Los Blancos probably getting two or three times as many quality scoring attempts than their familiar opponents. But will that mean 12 decent attempts or more like 6? That will be the story here, along with any potential serious further Injuring of that bad Leg of Ronaldo (Man of the Match 3/1, BetVictor) and he potentially having to come out and quite possibly the rainy Weather if the Forecasts are on. There will be much running in this game and the Speed and Athleticism of Real Madrid players like Bale, Modric (First Goalscorer 20/1, Bet365) and Isco should make a big difference as Los Rojiblancos find themselves playing a very deep Madrid team Offensively that knows finding ways to score against a team that plays behind the ball is extremely hard. If ever a first goal could be deemed “huge,” that will be the appropriate adjective for this game as one of these two clubs will be taking the Trophy back to Madrid with them with the favorites Real Madrid shooting for their 11th. Yeah, you read it right. They’ve won 10 already. Spain, brother. They good.

For Real Madrid, having the catlike Costa Rican Navas in Goal here seems better than having Iker Casillas, which, along with the Weather and CR7’s gimpy Leg is a big part of the reason why the Total at 2½ is so heavily juiced on the Over and why most sportsbooks like Online operator Bovada have chosen to put up a 2 (Over -125), as most (like the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and Pinnacle) have already done. Look for a 2½ if you like the Under and look for a 2 if you like the Over. As it did in 2014, Atlético (2,005 points)—ranked No. 4 in the latest Elo Rankings—definitely deserves to be here, and this Hearty team is having yet another season for the ages despite having lost so much, like it always seems they do. But asking Los Rojiblancos and Oblak to completely stop No. 1-ranked Real Madrid (2,083 points) and the always dangerous CR7, Benzema, Bale, Modric, Kroos, Isco and Jesé, among others, seems like an awful lot, despite the Experience, Confidence and proven ability to shut down Real Madrid at Spanish (Madrid) venues. This one will be in neutral Italy and Madrid can leave it all on the pitch, Injuries be damned. With Ronaldo likely not going to be able to go as hard as he can (running-wise), three excellent Los Blancos players to watch here on Saturday will be AMFs Modric (Man of the Match, 12/1, BetVictor) and Welshman Bale (Man of the Match, 8/1, BetVictor) and French Striker Karim Benzema (Man of the Match, 8/1, BetVictor) who has been linked with a move to Manchester United to play for new Red Devils Manager José Mourinho according to some rumors. In the end, the simple ability to be able to score a goal or goals and have the more talented Offensive players to try to do so should serve Zidane and Real Madrid well as Offense ends up beating Defense in this battle of all battles in that beautiful country in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea that looks like a boot. Start winnning with the best soccer picks here.

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Predicted Final Score: Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 1
UEFA Champions League Picks: Real Madrid PK -140, Real Madrid Draw No Bet -118, Real Madrid +150 & Over 2 -125 
UEFA Champions Props Picks: Cristiano Ronaldo, Anytime Goalscorer +137 & Luka Modric, Man of the Match 12/1
Best Line Offered: at Bet365