Saturday, May 24, 2014

A match made in UEFA: Madrid Derby decides UCL title

I know we're all counting the days until the FIFA World Cup, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the tournament that usually occupies everyone's focus during May.

The UEFA Champions League is determining the European club champions today, and it will be decided by a rivalry.

For the first time in its history, the European championship will be played with two teams from the same city. Real Madrid, one of the most successful Spanish squads in history, plays city rival Atlético Madrid.

The Madrid Derby (El Derbi madrileño) hasn't always been a booming rivalry, as Real has pretty much been dominant. Real leads the series 143-64-57, including a 2-1 record in UEFA Champions League matches.

Additionally, Real has 32 La Liga titles compared to Atlético's 10; 19 Copa del Rey titles compared to Atlético's 10; and a Europe-best nine European titles where Atlético's best performance was a runner-up medal in the 1970s.

Between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the two teams who make up the rivalry dubbed 'El Clásico,' there has been a chokehold over La Liga that has left most teams out of the equation. The league has received criticism for being a higher quality version of the Scottish Premier League, which has been dominated until recently by the two teams who made up the Old Firm rivalry.

However, Atlético's year might be a sign of change coming. They won the Spanish title this year to become the first non-El Clásico team in a decade to win. Though Real won the Copa del Rey this year, Atlético held the trophy a year ago.

Could this be a sign of a third major team in La Liga? Hard to tell because it will most likely depend heavily on whether the team can keep all their talent in the coaching and playing department.

But one thing's for sure, Madrid, Spain has a lot to get excited about today, and all the fans there should relish the opportunity to see their teams represent the pinnacle of European football.

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