Real Madrid (+135) vs Atletico Madrid (+225), Draw (+215)
Two years after earning La Decima, Real Madrid (9-2-1) will look to win their 11th European Cup this Saturday when they take on crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid (7-2-3) in the UEFA Champions League final at San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy (2:45 PM Eastern).
The ten-time champs come in as favorites, even though Atletico have already dispatched of the world’s top clubs en route to the final. Part of that is star power. Real boast arguably the best player on the planet in Cristiano Ronaldo. Atletico rely on a roster of stellar but under-the-radar footballers. Sportsbooks know that bettors will back names on the back of the jersey as much as the ones on the front.
Another part of it is history. Real Madrid are 10-3 in Champions League finals, and they won their most recent UCL title by topping a very similar Atletico team (4-1 in 2014). Sportsbooks also know that bettors love a good trend.
But there are ample reasons to side with Atletico this year. As mentioned, they had the much tougher path to the final, but were full value in wins over Barcelona and Bayern Munich during the knockout stage.
While Atletico were busy knocking off the two tournament favorites, Real were having issues with Wolfsburg and Manchester City, two decent clubs, to be sure, but not on par with what Atletico faced. Indeed, Man City looked overwhelmed by the spotlight in their first ever semi-final appearance.
Atletico Madrid won’t be. Not only have they been in this spot before, but they’ve had their share of success against Real in other competitions of late, going 5-5-1 in the last 11 overall. (The only loss was the last UCL final.) This season they beat the Merengues 1-0 away, and drew 1-1 at home.
Two years ago, Atletico were a Cinderella story. This time, they come in with confidence and the arguably the best defense this tournament has ever seen. The Colchoneros are better value at +225.
Pick: Atletico (+225)
(Photo Credit: LauraHale [CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)