Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid: Latest Predictions for Madrid Derby 2014

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 02:  Cristiano Ronaldo (L) of Real Madrid CF battles for tha ball against Juan Francisco Torres alias Juanfran of Club Atletico de Madrid during the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid CF  at Vicente Calderon Stadium on March 2, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

It will be all about the clash of styles in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final. City rivals Atletico and Real Madrid represent opposite ends of the football spectrum.

Atletico are strong, resolute and efficient in the image of manager Diego Simeone. Real, meanwhile, embody the quick-witted creativity of veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The philosophical clash is just as obvious off the pitch. The Atletico squad has been assembled via selective spending and player development, while Real still embody the Galaticos policy.

When two divergent styles meet, the result is usually an entertaining game. Here are three predictions for how that entertainment will unfold.


Both teams will score set-piece goals

Even with a host of quality passers and fast-paced attackers on display, expect both teams to still find the net via a set piece. That's been a familiar route to goal for both clubs in recent big games.

Real headed past Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer twice in the semi-final second leg, one from a corner and the other came from a free-kick. Central defenders Pepe and Sergio Ramos, as well as forward Cristiano Ronaldo, all pose legitimate danger in the air.

Meanwhile, Atletico are always a threat aerially, thanks to centre-back pairing Miranda and Diego Godin. The latter headed in from a corner to claim Atletico this season's La Liga title. Miranda punished Real from a corner to win the 2013 Copa del Rey final in extra time.

Both clubs boast awesome power in the air.
Both clubs boast awesome power in the air.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Given Atletico's proficiency in the air, along with Real's aerial threats, it's safe to predict a set-piece goal or two.


Koke will outshine Luka Modric in Midfield

Real possess marquee names, but Atletico have unearthed and patiently developed their stars. One such player is crafty midfielder Koke. The 22-year-old will outshine more illustrious Real counterpart Luka Modric.

Koke's creative output has been prolific this season. He has provided 15 assists in all competitions, per The diminutive schemer will be the focal point of Atletico's attempts to build attacks.

Fortunately, Koke should have more room to work than Modric. While the experienced player often sits deep to let Angel di Maria focus on getting forward, Koke is surrounded by workmanlike foils.

The likes of Tiago and skipper Gabi Fernandez will keep Atletico protected at the back. They will also win the ball for Koke to probe for openings.


Gareth Bale will score

Gareth Bale hasn't scored in four games against Atletico this season. But the Welsh forward will snap that barren run in the CL final.

Gareth Bale has so far failed to flourish against Atletico.
Gareth Bale has so far failed to flourish against Atletico.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Bale has already positively impacted a crunch final against a hated rival for Los Blancos. His stunning solo effort beat FC Barcelona in this year's Copa del Rey final.

The Atletico back five is a tough nut to crack, but with most of the attention likely paid to Ronaldo, Bale will get free at some point. When he does, he'll find the net to push Real one step closer to La Decima.


Final Prediction: Real Madrid win 3-2