5 reasons why this season's Champions League final could be an El Clasico
After a massive victory this Tuesday over Paris St. Germain, Champions League holders Real Madrid are marching into the quarter-finals – something few people expected to happen following their relatively poor season thus far.
Meanwhile, their biggest rivals Barcelona are poised to make the quarter-finals themselves next week – they go into the second leg of their last 16 tie with Chelsea at 1-1 on aggregate but have an all-important away goal on their side and with Chelsea on a run of bad form, it’s almost impossible to see them gaining a result at Camp Nou.
Despite the two Spanish giants appearing in a combined total of 23 Champions League finals, the biggest game in European football has never been contested between the two. But could the 2017/18 Season finally be the year when the Champions League final is also an El Clasico? Here are five reasons why it could be.
#1 Real Madrid just dumped the most impressive side out of the tournament
After the group stages of this year’s Champions League were over, the side on everyone’s lips was Paris St. Germain. The big-spending French champions scored 25 goals in the group stages – more than any other side and two better than the next highest scorers Liverpool – who didn’t have a side as strong as Bayern Munich to deal with in their group.
They also conceded just 4 goals – only Manchester United and Barcelona conceded lesser, and 3 of those goals came in the 3-1 defeat away at Bayern after both teams had already qualified for the next stage of the competition. With this record – as well as players like Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani leading their line, PSG looked like the most dangerous team in the last 16.
When they were drawn with holders Real Madrid, then, it looked like PSG were probably the favourites. Despite Madrid’s greater experience, they hadn’t shown any good form in the group stages having been defeated comprehensively by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley and finishing in second place in their group.
The lesson learned, now that the tie is done and dusted? Write Madrid off at your peril. They dominated both legs of the clash, eventually winning 5-2 on aggregate. Somehow, Los Blancos made it look easy. And if they can dominate a side as good as PSG like that, who’s going to be able to stop them marching to the final again? It’s hard to see anyone capable.