There was a time when every Champions League final was something special to look forward too but that momentum kind of stop for me during the past two seasons (anyone who knows me very well will understand why).
I got to admit that I can’t recall what happen the night Chelsea broke Bayern Munich’s heart on their home turf in 2012 and last season all German final in Wembley (not taking away anything from those deserving winners but my heart just wasn’t there).
But on this occasion, I’ve got every reason to watch or to be precise maybe just 4 reasons perhaps. After all it’s a special occasion where many historic moments could happen.
AN ANGEL FYING HIGH IN THE MIDDLE OF TH BERNEBAU
Whenever the talk about Real Madrid comes to people mind, there is a probability that you will hear the names of Cristiano RONALDO, Gareth BALE and maybe to some extent Karim BENZEMA.
But I like to think the unsung hero for Real this season has got to be Ángel di MARIA. Quite seldom (apart from fans of Argentina) we do hear his name being mentioned, I’m guessing maybe he is just not “Galaticos” enough for some people.
When BALE arrived at the start of the season, there was already a level of uncertainty about his future at the Bernabeu. This followed by the purchase of ISCO, left many people believing that he could be heading for the exit door.
Nevertheless, newly arrived manager Carlo ANCELOTTI perhaps saw something in him and decided to do a little adjustment in the midfield section. Instead on the wings, DI MARIA was push to the center and is now thriving in his new role. Quite often he has been scoring some vital goals & also being the leading in assists for his team.
Further boost of confidence for him is that on Saturday he will be a returning to a familiar ground. After all, it was at the Estádio da Luz while playing for Benfica where he made his mark in Europe for 3 years before moving to the Spanish capital.
I’m sure we can expect another stellar performance from the one time wing man who is now flying more than ever. Should if any other Real Madrid players were to score on Saturday night, don’t be surprise that it was an Angel in disguise that set up the opportunity for them to do so.
THE MANAGER WITH THE BIGGER BALLS ON THE SIDE LINE
While in Real Madrid we will be talking about an Argentine on the field, in Atlético Madrid’s the focus will be more on someone who will be in the dugout instead.
As a player, I can say that I’ve seen the type of leadership quality that Diego SIMEONE possesses, which I had feeling that could translate well if he ever goes into management once he hung his boots.
For those of you who have been with us since 2006, you might remember that we were following his progress with Estudiantes. Fact is that he manages to bring them their first title in 23 years and along the way reviving the career of a certain Juan Sebastian VERON to me speaks volume of his managerial credential.
Even then we have already looked into the future that one day “El Cholo” would be a perfect candidate of the hottest seat in Argentine football; the manager of the National Team.
Now with Atlético, he has done it again, starting with the Europa League in 2012 right up to last weekend’s La Liga. All this done not with a huge budget to spend on buying player; instead inserting trust, belief and self determination on the players that he already has.
Remember, he has brought the best out of the same defensive lineup he inherited in 2011 when the club was struggling back then.
Now he is only one game away from becoming the fifth Argentine and the first Atlético history to lift the Holy Grail of European football. Whatever the outcome happens in Lisbon, in my opinion SIMEONE has exceeded everyone’s expectation of him and is indeed one of the best managers in the world right now.
Not taking away anything from José SOSA and Emiliano INSUA; whom I believe have also played their part in what could be the greatest season in Atlético’s history.
Should any of them see action on Saturday night, I’m sure they will put up their best performance ever. Especially for SOSA since he is still in contention for a place in SABELLA’s final squad to Brazil.
So which way is it going to be? One or Three?
Nevertheless good luck to all four of them!