Real Madrid have more firepower, Atletico have more automatic

Big players deliver on big nights.

A big player is a six-foot two warrior who costs between £30 million and £100 million and wins big games for you.

Cristiano Ronaldo does that, while Gareth Bale can switch to turbo, as when his slalom won the Copa Del Rey.

But Bale is playing a smarter game now, after learning from Carlo Ancelotti, his English-speaking Italian coach: “He has been great with me tactically. I think I’m more aware tactically than before and more able to get into scoring positions.”

These two superstars are mates, get on well, combine beautifully at tikmes, and each of them can make his own goals.

In Munich, big Sergio Ramos scored two goals as Real battered Bayern 4-0.

Take that, Mr Guardiola!

Warning: tonight\’s Champions League Final might be be a war of attrition with a very few spectacular moments.

I\’m expecting to see a penalty at some point in the 90+ minutes.

My gut feeling tells me that Atletico peaked last week when they won La Liga with a 1-1 at the Nou Camp.

Today we heard that Diego Costa has been having treatment from Serbian therapist Marijana Kovacevic, who has treated Robin van Persie and Frank Lampard, among others.

We’re also told that Pepe and Benzema are doubtful with a calf injury and a thigh respectively.

Both will start, believe me.

I\’ve been following Atletico Madrid closely all season because I love their professional passion, fire and compactness.

Knowing the final was coming up, I was wondering what I could write that I haven\’t written already. Wondering what else I could say about them.

On Friday I stopped wondering because of Carlo Ancelotti\’s assistant Paul Clement, an Englishman who worked at Chelsea, made a remark that resonated with me.

Clement summed up in six words what makes Atletico so hard to beat.

He said: “They\’re very rarely out of position.”


That\’s something you’ll notice tonight.

Atletico Madrid obviously do a lot of shape work and that’s why they have a lot of automatic, as Kaka calls it.

Clement, who knows his neighbours very well, said, “There are two contrasting styles: they play with a very compact block in a four-four-two. They\’re very rarely out of position, and they are very aggressive. Simeone has done a tremendous job: congratulations to them for winning the league.

“They use the ball well too: they defend deep but when they get the ball they\’re effective at moving the ball forward together, very compact in attack as well as defence. They don\’t just punt it forward; they play little combinations and work their way down the field. There will be periods when they have the ball and there is space behind, but certainly not as much as when you play against Barcelona or Bayern. We expect to have to break down a tight block for the majority of the game.”

That tactical preview with Sid Lowe is your essential reading today.

Enjoy the match.

It\’s a win-win night for me.

I\’ll back the galacticos because I think they\’ll win and Carlo will join Bob Paisley, the only manager in history to win three European Cups.

And if the underdogs beat them, I\’ll be ecstatic.

Who cares about winning a bet? Football is about glory.