Champions League Final Combined XI - Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid
It all started last year in September, when the 32 teams were drawn against each other to begin the battle for Europe’s greatest title. Bayern Munich came into the UEFA Champions League as the defending champions while Real Madrid and Barcelona’s reputation as favourites continued. After a series of intriguing clashes over the course of 9 months, we are down to two teams who will find out their destiny on Saturday night in the final at Lisbon.
But this final brings forth a different atmosphere when compared to all the previous finals as it will be the first time ever that two clubs from the same city battle it out for supremacy. The Madrid derby will take the centre stage in Portugal.
Before the two teams grace the field on May 24, we have assembled the best 11 players from both the teams keeping their Champions League performances as the criteria.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois steadily came into prominence this season. His performances got better with every match he played. Since the knockout rounds began, Courtois's commanding presence in front of goal. The Belgian put up a man of the match show at the San Siro against AC Milan. His crucial saves in the 1st leg gave Atletico the advantage coming into the home fixture where they comfortably brushed Milan aside.
And that form was carried into the game against league rivals Barcelona. Once again, it was a performance of the highest standards by the 22-year-old who was almost impenetrable in the Camp Nou. In the second leg, Atletico won 1-0 as Courtois kept a clean sheet and knocked Barcelona out. In the semi-finals against his parent club Chelsea, he let in just one goal over the two fixtures as Atletico confirmed their berth in the final. While Diego Lopez has been largely impressive for Madrid in the League along with cup goalie Casillas, Courtois convincingly takes the no.1 spot ahead of them due to his consistent performances in all competitions, having made 29 saves and registering 5 clean sheets in 11 appearences.
Defenders: Carvajal - Godin - Ramos - Luis
The back line features two players from each of the teams. Daniel Carvajal makes it into the starting lineup ahead of Juanfran. The 22-year-old has started almost every game replacing Arbeloa as the first choice right-back at Real Madrid. He has formed an effective partnership with Gareth Bale on the right flank; an area where Real have looked better this season. His most important contribution was the assist to Bale for the first goal against Dortmund in the first leg. Against Bayern Munich, Carvajal rendered Franck Ribery ineffective and was defensively compact over the course of two legs.
Real Madrid took two steps forward towards the final in Lisbon because Sergio Ramos stepped up on two occasions to give Real a 2-0 lead in the early minutes. The Spanish international buried the 2012 semi-final agony, beneath the match winning performance he displayed against Bayern Munich. He scored two headers from set-pieces to put Real in a commanding position. At the same time he was simply unbreakable not only at the Allianz Arena but over the two legs. It was a defensive masterclass from the 28-year old, who successfully stopped Bayern from finding an opening, winning aerial duels to keep the Bavarians at bay.
Diego Godin has stood out as the best defender in the Champions League this season. The Uruguayan has given a series of flawless performances in the competition. Atletico have conceded the fewest goals in the tournament (5 goals in 12 matches) and Godin has played his part in 10 of those. Atletico's compactness comes from the fact that Godin is a precise tackler and is exceptionally good at reading the game. He played a huge part in the games against Barcelona and Chelsea where we witnessed a perfect demonstration of concentration and determination. And the will to win from Godin has been recognised as he takes his place at the centre of defence alonside Sergio Ramos.
Atletico Madrid's left-back, Filipe Luis, was the strongest candidate ahead of Real's Marcelo and Coentrao. The Brazilian had a fine season defending and providing attacking support down the left flank. His strengths have been man-marking the opponents, providing key passes and an unbelievable work rate. In a total of 9 appearances, he has scored a goal and provided an assist. Coentrao and Marcelo haven't started all the games as they have been interchanged by Ancelotti while Luis has been a vital figure for Atletico all along the competition.
Midfielders: Modric – Di Maria – Koke
Luka Modric who is positioned as the deep lying play maker has been a huge difference for Real in the centre of the pitch. The Croatian fits perfectly into Ancelotti’s 4-3-3 formation acting as the ball carrier and setting up the attackers in scoring positions. He has anchored the midfield and orchestrated the play in almost every game while being equally effective in breaking up play and tracking back to help the defenders. Against Bayern Munich, Modric showed his class and composure on the ball even under immense pressure. He features as the deep lying playmaker of the squad.
Fellow teammate, Angel Di Maria, endured a tough start following the arrival of Gareth Bale. The pressure to deliver in such a competitive environment was always there in such a star studded team. But the Argentine took on the challenge and has provided his “Duracell energy” for the whites by running up and down the pitch and being equally dynamic in attack and defence. His effective dribbles and pin point crosses from the left side have been the reason for many of Madrid’s goals. Equally, he has supported the defence by tracking back and breaking up play. With 3 goals and 5 assists in 10 appearances, he makes it to the starting line-up.
Atletico's creative genius, Koke, handled the attacking side of Atletico's game while Tiago and Gabi were mostly concentrating on breaking up oppositions fluidity in midfield. The versatile midfielder has played his best season yet where he was seen everywhere on the pitch, creating the chances for the Rojiblancos. He scored the decisive goal against Barcelona in the 2nd leg to qualify for the semi-finals. Against Chelsea, he played several key passes and hit the bar on one occasion at the Bridge. The 22-year-old features in the 3-man midfield.
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Forwards: Bale – Costa – Ronaldo
Gareth Bale had initially been under the radar since his high profile summer move with a burden to justify his 100 million tag. The Welshman’s season was initially hindered by minor injuries. But despite starting off at a steady pace, Bale has accumulated numbers that justify a good season in his favour. Since his arrival, he has started in 39 games overall scoring 20 goals and assisting 15 at the same time which are some excellent stats considering it is his debut season.
In the Champions League, the 24-year-old winger has scored 5 goals in 11 appearances and has assisted 4 times in the process.
Since he became the first option for the Rojiblancos, Diego Costa has transformed into a world class prospect leading the forward line for Simeone. Costa has had a decent scoring run but his conversion rate has been brilliant. His finishing qualities have massively contributed towards Atletico’s successful campaign. In 8 appearances, Costa has found the net on 8 occasions with a 1.0 goal-to-game ratio. He may lack good temperament and discipline on the field, but the quality he provides in the striking department makes him a threat for any opposition. He features as the striker in our trio of attackers.
Cristiano Ronaldo made history this season as he added yet another record to his name. The Portuguese sensation scored 16 goals to become the highest scorer in a single Champions League season and surpassed Lionel Messi's previous mark of 14. So quite obviously there is no doubt about Cristiano Ronaldo’s position in this squad. The goals have come against every team in the tournament and he still has one more match to add to his tally.This has been the second consecutive season as the top scorer in the competition and his consistency down the flanks is second to none.As the best player of the competition, Ronaldo features on the left wing alongside Costa and Bale.
Substitutes: Gabi, Arda Turan, Juanfran, Pepe, Benzema, Adrian