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The Ins and Outs of the Champions League Final: Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid (with Gamblin Matt Mortensen)
You hear that sound Mortensen?
Possibly! But I actually mean the Champions League song that’s playing right now because, you know,THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL BETWEEN REAL MADRID AND ATLETICO MADRID IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER! Can you tell that I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it?!
M: I'm about to lose control, but I think you'd like that! That's way too many capitals. Hurts my eyes. Swear you do them deliberately. Oh, and that song sucks. As much as the Canadian Soccer team.
You’re going to run with that Canadian Football Team joke from here till the end of the world aren’t you? Wonderful. In any event, we have a Champions League Final to preview Matt so let’s get off the pop culture references and start with this; how are you feeling about this Final?
M: I’m...I don't know. I'm very indifferent right now. It's hard to say. I'm looking forward to the game but my hate for Ronaldo is holding me back from investing in it. I love the polar opposites in the teams and the complete opposite in game plans. No matter the sport I always believe defence wins matches. Heck, it helped us to an EPL Title. That seems like 10 years ago now. But there is something that makes me hesitant and wary of Real. And that's that they can score quickly and at ease. But I think that's what makes this intriguing. I think they really struggled against City and I don't see any reason to believe they won't struggle here against a defensive minded team who relies on counter attacks.
Save some for the Storyline sections Matt! Which is where we’re going now I suppose. I mean unless people want to see us quote some more songs. Which I’m guessing no. And now I’m rambling so let’s just begin!
Major Storyline: It’s an all Madrid showdown. For the second time in three years the kings of Madrid (and two of the best clubs in all of the world) will clash again for the opportunity to be the best. What other storyline can top that?! Hell what more do we really need to say on the matter? We’ll obviously get to the difference in styles more in a minute Matt, but even you can’t deny that the biggest talking point going in is that these two clubs are neighbors, rivals and will go into this just wanting to humiliate the other on the way to football glory. It’s the main reason I absolutely cannot wait for this match up.
M: Thank goodness this isn't Barca vs Real. I'd be seriously boycotting if that was the case. I'm intrigued and excited for this game cause I truly believe we are destined for a penalty shootout. It has an air of special this game. I just feel something special is going to happen. I see it playing out quite similar to their 2014 final. If we get something like that, well the first 90 minutes anyway, come the end of this game I think we will all walk away happy. But the major storyline to me is what Ronaldo shows up. A report came out 4 hours ago that he limped off the training paddock and didn't finish training. That marks his 3rd consecutive training session he hasn't finished. He was also subbed of at halt time in their last division game. He says he’ll be fine but I don't think Real will have a 100% Ronaldo. And I don't think they can win without him being 100%.
Secondary Storyline: This is where we get into the point you brought up at the beginning of this column. For those who have never seen either Real or Atletico Madrid play, you’re in for a massive contrast in styles. Real Madrid loves to attack. And hey, with a core that consists of Ronaldo, Garreth Bale and James Rodriguez you better be attacking. In contrast, Atletico is pretty much a high end version of what Leicester City did in the Premier League this year, using defense and counterattacking to grind their opponents into dust. It’s an awesome contrast, but also a tricky one for determining whether or not this is a great game. The key will be who gains control. If Atletico is able to play their game the way they did against Barcelona and Bayern then I’m with you; this will be a gripping, tense match that not even the climax of Scream could match. If Real gets ahead though...if I’m going to be honest Matt, I might be just as interested in seeing that happen. Can Atletico keep up if they fall behind even one?
M: Can they keep up? No I don't think so. But I don't think that's the way this game will go. This truly is going to be a battle for the ages. You have the best defensive team in all of football (I know some people don't like how Atletico play or Leicester for that matter. They find it “too boring.” Hi, Tottenham fans. I'm looking at you.) going up against the most expensive attack in all of football. I don't see why this won't be a great game. 2014 was. And both of these teams have improved from then. I truly feel this game will be better then the 2014 match up. I hope people can sit back and just enjoy it and not whinge cause no goals may be scored. Cause quite frankly I fully expect this game to be 0-0 and to go to penalties.
Tottenham fans? COMPLAINING?! What is this madness you speak of?! Then again I would probably be a miserable git myself if my club had the best season of their history, only to a) lose to a more likable, better underdog and b) finish behind Arsenal anyway. And now a special message for Spurs fans!
Real Madrid Player to Watch: Do you want to lead this one off Matt or should I take this one again?
M: I'm pretty sure we’ll be picking the same player here. Soooo unless you're on some strong drugs I think you should lead off.
Thanks Matt...for allowing me to prove I am on strong drugs by picking James Rodriguez!
Hear me out here Matt. The obvious answer to this is Ronaldo because he’s Ronaldo, the Spanish David Beckham except with talent. But a) he always gets his opportunities anyway barring him coming down with a case of sulking and b) as you just pointed out a few minutes ago he may be hobbled. A hobbled Ronaldo is bad; Pentagon Jr. being taken out of Lucha Underground bad, and like you said it greatly affects Real’s chances. And thus our gaze turns to Rodriguez and to a lesser extent Garreth Bale.
Maybe it’s because he plays in the shadow of Ronaldo and Bale but man Rodriguez is underrated to me. I was massively impressed with his performance back in the 2014 World Cup for his country Columbia and whenever I’ve watched Real Madrid in recent memory they’re usually operating best when the 24 year old is playing in sync with his more famous co-star. Now with Ronaldo playing hurt Rodriguez needs to be at an even higher level. This is the guy to keep an eye on Matt, especially if Real’s star can’t play. The responsibility has to be shared, and Rodriguez is the guy who needs to step up the most. Yes even more than Bale. Must be the Tottenham in him or something.
M: See! Knew you were going to pick Jimmy too. You're such a copycat sometimes!
M: I too was impressed with his showing at the 2014 World Cup but I feel ever since then he has taken a step back. I don't think Real suits him and don't think that environment suits him. I'm fully expecting him to lace the boots up with Man U next season or PSG to fill the boots of the Zlatan God. I've heard rumours of them willing to pay $80 million for him. With Zinedane opting for a 4-3-3 set up for most of the season I don't think it has shown Jimmy’s true talents. He has looked like a former shell of himself in my eyes. Would you believe it if I told you he only started 17 La Liga games this season? Jimmy!!! Only 17!! That's ridiculous. This is the game for him to step up and show his worth on the main stage. Everyone will be watching and paying attention. He could write his own check after this game. Oh and quick side note. Beckham > Ronaldo. Fight me.
Atletico Madrid Player to Watch: Matt, you know where I’m going with this. There’s rightfully been a lot of talk about Atletico’s defensive ability, but at the same token though they have a player who has become one of the best stories this year; your old friend Fernando Torres. We all know the narrative; once upon a time Torres was one of the most dynamic strikers in all of football for Atletico, Liverpool and his country Spain. Then he went to your club Chelsea and...well at least he’ll always have that clinching goal against Barcelona that sent the Blues to the 2012 Champions League Final! Which is good considering he otherwise turned into a laughing stock. Case in point.
And then something funny happened. Torres found himself back at Atletico after being loaned out by AC Milan (talk about how the mighty have fallen by the way; where the hell has that club been?!) and after several other guys failed to grab the starting striker gig found himself back in the role he first claimed almost a decade ago. And wouldn’t you know it he’s completely revitalized his career; he looks like Fernando Torres again. As someone who loves a great story I love his career resurrection and I love that, a red card against Barcelona aside, he’s heavily contributed to this run. This game is now his final test. Atletico will rely heavily on their defense yes, but they also will need someone to put pressure on Real’s defense on the counterattack. Torres is that man. I’m hoping he’s up to the task. And I think you are as well.
M: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...oh sorry. What'd I miss? It's 1:54am here and you were rambling about you know who; he who shall not be named; the Voldemort of football. I'm actually really struggling just to pick one single person here. They are just the complete opposite of Real. They've proven almost impossible to break down. They aren't built to play attractive football. I think they will have retribution and revenge on their minds from 2014 and the sheer will not to lose again will come through. That starts down the back with the likes of Diego Godin and Jose Gieménez. There is a reason Atletico have the best defensive structure in all of football and it starts with those two. I expect that Atletico will have two or three great opportunities on the counter so I guess my player to watch will be Antoine Greizmann. He is in tremendous form right now. Only aged 25. The peak of his career. And he scored the winning and only goal against arguably the second best defensive team in football, Bayern Munich. In saying that, I know it's going to be who shall not be names who does something. Be it sets up the winning goal, scores the winning goal, scores the winning penalty kick. Something. I know he's going to do something so you can rub it in my face for the rest of time.
I never rub things in the face of closeted Fernando Torres fans, least of all you Matt. Now hit these people with them odds and your prediction!
Gamblin Matt and the Odds: Real enter the final as $2.40 favourites while Atletico and the draw both sit at $3.10. Guess it's my bias coming through but I don't get why they have such a big difference in price for Real and Atletico. I truly can only see this game ending three ways. That is a 0-0 draw, which is paying $7. Real 1-0 which is $6.50 and Atletico 1-0 which is $7.50. I'm fully expecting this game to go to extra time at worst. So going to bust out some different odds here. Real to win IN extra time is $9 while Atletico is $10 to win IN extra time. $10 for both teams to win via penalty shoot out. I don't know why but I've been feeling this goes to penalties ever this match up was set. I feel in my heart that Atletico win and he who shall not be named will score the winner. But my head says Real win. I like the 0-0 draw but feel it's a toss up when it comes to the penalties. But isn't that's what makes penalties so enthralling?
Winner: Matt, perhaps I’m being silly but I think this is going to feature more scoring than you expect. I think we’ll see this game go 1-1 into penalties. I don’t know who will score first or what not, but I see Atletico managing to get one goal on the counter while Real finds a way to sneak one by Atletico’s juggernaut back line.. After that it’ll be a tense match up to penalties and in the end I think Atletico will take it. And oh yes, I think they’ll take it after Torres seals everything with a game winning penalty, thus giving him his Drogba moment and bringing his comeback story to an awesome conclusion. Basically it’s going to be the Chelsea-Bayern 2012 final with Atletico as Chelsea and Real as Bayern. You remember how that all went right Matt?
M: Drogba brilliance. My man. There was no “Fernando” in the squad.
Really? Who was this guy then?!
M: I'm going to assume I know what video that is. So that is also my man, Costa!
Your delusions hold no bounds. Any last words before we close this shindig out?
M: Again, Beckham > Ronaldo. And I hope Voldemorts comeback story comes to an amazing injury carted off conclusion. I know I know. I'm the best. You don't need to say it. That's why you keep having me back.
The length’s this man goes to hide his love for Torres. He’s not the best guest columnist for nothing folks! As such, we’re done here and off to sleep or in my case grab a Sunkist from the local convenience store! I’ll hopefully be back later with a Lucha Underground preview provided the rest of the matches are released. Till then, a meme for our good pal Mazza!