UEFA Champions League Final: Real Madrid to upstage Athletico again?

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The UEFA Champions League final is Saturday (today) at the San Siro in Milan as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid meet in the third Champions League final between Spanish clubs and the second between teams from the same city.

The only previous final between two teams from the same city pitted these two teams just two years ago. Here is a statistical look at the match, complete with the Soccer Power Index projection:

Real and Atletico finished second and third in La Liga with 90 and 88 points, respectively. Real is still rated slightly higher according to SPI, and lifts the trophy 54 percent of the time in a neutral-site matchup.

This matchup pits SPI’s second-highest rated offensive team in Real Madrid against its highest-rated defensive team in Atletico Madrid. Real scored 110 goals in La Liga this season, the second-most in the five major European Leagues (Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France), trailing only Barcelona.

Atletico conceded 18 goals in 38 league matches, the fewest goals allowed per match in the five major European leagues. Real is also the second-highest scoring team in this year’s Champions League with 28 goals, and has actually also allowed the fewest in the competition with five.

Atletico kept 24 clean sheets in league play, most in the five major European leagues and six more than any other team in La Liga. Real scored three or more goals in 20 of their 38 league matches, most in the five major European leagues.

Real Madrid shot more often than any other team in the five major European leagues, leading in both total shots and shots on goal. Real put 40 percent of their shots on target, second-best in La Liga and sixth best in the five major European Leagues. Atletico allowed the second-fewest shots and fewest shots on target in La Liga, and opponents put just 27 percent of shots on target, also fewest in La Liga and third-fewest in the five major European leagues.

This disparity was evident in the teams’ two previous matches this season, where Real Madrid was held to a total of one goal. Atletico held Real to 24 shots during the course of the two matches, with just five of those on target, both of which were Real’s fewest against any opponent this season.

It wasn’t just the quantity, but the quality of the shots weren’t great, either. Real was expected to score 1.99 goals in the two matches against Atletico (based on type and location of shots), their fewest against any team. PSG (2.4 expected goals) was the only other opponent Real was expected to score fewer than three goals against this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo finished with 35 La Liga goals, fourth-most in the five major European leagues. He led all players in shots (227) and shots on goal (97) this season. Ronaldo alone averaged 2.7 shots on target per La Liga match this season while Atletico allowed just 2.6 per match as a team.

Real Madrid connected on 27 percent of their crosses in league play this season, best in La Liga. They created 151 chances on crosses in league play this season, 25 more than any other team in the five major European Leagues. Their 35 assists were also the most, 14 more than any other team.

This strategy may not work against Atletico, which allowed just three goals off crosses in league play this season, four fewer than any other team in La Liga. Opponents completed 20 percent of crosses against Atletico, third-fewest in La Liga.

One other area where Real Madrid excels is on the counterattack. Real scored 10 fast break goals in all competitions this season, second-most among Spanish teams (Barcelona: 11) despite not competing in the Copa del Rey.

Real took 49 shots on the fast break, 14 more than any other Spanish team. Atletico has allowed one goal on the fast break in 56 matches in all competitions this season on just 15 shots.

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