This years Champions League season has, to a large extent, mirrored that of 2013/2014.
Despite another poor showing, an English team progressed as far as the semi-finals. Arsenal lost their nerve in the first leg, yet produced a brave, albeit fruitless, second leg against a European giant. Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone knocked out a fancied Barcelona side. Two teams from Spain faced German and English opposition in the semi-finals. And the final was a Madrid derby.
Atletico Madrid will face city rivals Real in their second Champions League final in three years later this month. There have been personnel changes on either side, yet how do the 2013/2014 teams match up to the current ones?
In terms of goals scored there is one clear winner. The 2014 Real team scored an incredible 41 goals in 13 games. This gives Carlo Ancelotti’s winning side a goals per game ratio of 3.15. This is well above Atletico’s 2014 average of 1.33 and 2016 average of 2. The current Real side have managed just 2.25 goals a game.
Despite conceding 4 goals in the final, Atletico’s 2014 side remarkably conceded the same number of goals as Real Madrid that season (0.77 per game). This season has been a different story. Los Blancos have been among the most austere defences in Europe, conceding just 0.42 goals a game. Atletico are not far behind, conceding just 0.58 goals for each game played.
The current Real Madrid team are by far and a way the most creative team. Per game, Zidane’s side created 15.83 chances. That’s almost 4 chances more than Atletico in 2014 and 2016. Zidane’s team average just over 20 shots per game, which is 6 more than Simeone’s current side. Despite that, Atletico are more accurate in front of goal, hitting the target 52% of the time to Real’s 47%.
It should not be a surprise to learn that Atletico win far more tackles than Real per game. The 2014 team won the most at 21.15 per game to the current sides 18.75. Both of these numbers are well above their city rivals (2014: 12.83 , 2016: 15.08). Yet between tackles, aerial duels and take-ons, it is Real Madrid who emerge superior if only marginally. Ancelotti’s Los Blancos side won 51.76% of their duels to Zidane’s 50.22%. The numbers have remained similarly stable across the city as Atletico’s 2014 team won 47.89% of duels and his 2016 side win 48.21%.
Remarkably the current Atletico side have made no defensive errors that have led to goals this season. In 2014, they made just one.
Real on the other hand are less solid.
This season Real have made 8 defensive errors, half of which have led to goals. Both in 2014 and 2016 Atletico have made just 2 defensive errors in all their Champions League games.
Fernando Torres’s dismissal against Barcelona remains Atletico’s only red card this season. In 2014 they had no players dismissed. Of Real the opposite is true. They have had no players sent off this season but had one red card in 2014.
Yellow cards is different story entirely, however. In 2014 Atletico averaged 2.62 yellow cards per game to Real’s 1.85. This season, discipline has improved for both sides with Atletico receiving just 1.67 yellow cards a game and Real 1.5.
All things considered, Real must be favourites heading into the final. Their superior attacking threat would nudge them into that position. Nevertheless, the current Atletico side is a different animal to the one who was just minutes from denying Real la decima. The return of Torres and his partnership with Antoine Griezmann has looked dangerous and dismantled both Barcelona and Bayern Munich at key stages of their games.
The final, which take place in Milan on May 28th, is sure to be another memorable encounter.