Power Ranking Atletico and Real Players on Champions League Contribution So Far
Football is a team sport. That goes without saying. And the best team will almost always triumph over the best group of individuals.
That said, when a collection of highly skilled footballers buys into their manager’s system, and into their club’s overall cause, special things can happen.
Over the past few months, both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have done exactly that, and it’s no accident that they’ll be the two sides contesting the Champions League final on Saturday.
The following slideshow will rank the players from the Spanish capital according to their individual contributions in the Champions League so far.
But don’t be surprised if, come the weekend, a good many of them sacrifice individual glory for the greater good of the team.
(Statistics courtesy Squawka)
28. David Villa, Atletico Madrid
David Villa is yet to score in this instalment of the UEFA Champions League, and he hasn’t picked up an assist as of yet, either. That said, the 32-year-old’s work-rate has been exemplary, and he has completely bought into Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone’s playing style.
27. Asier Illarramendi, Real Madrid
Asier Illarramendi arrived at Real Madrid last summer—a €32 million pick-up from Real Sociedad. He has so far played parts of 11 Champions League matches for Los Blancos, and with Xabi Alonso suspended for the Lisbon final, it’s likely he’ll be handed a place in the starting line-up by manager Carlo Ancelotti.
26. Raul Garcia, Atletico Madrid
Raul Garcia has been mostly a bit-part player during Atletico Madrid’s run to the Champions League final. Only four of his 11 appearances have been for the full 90 minutes, although he’s still managed to score four goals while creating numerous opportunities for his teammates. A hard worker and tough customer, he has also contributed 13 interceptions this term.
25. Isco, Real Madrid
Isco has started six Champions League matches for Real Madrid this season, scoring three goals and earning an assist. His versatility has clearly been an asset to Ancelotti, who has used the 22-year-old both as a central midfielder and further upfield in a support role to the attack.
24. Adrian Lopez, Atletico Madrid
When Diego Costa came off the field injured against Barcelona on Saturday, it was Adrian Lopez whom Simeone sent out to replace the Spain international. In eight Champions League appearances this term, the 26-year-old has scored twice—his second coming against Chelsea in the semi-final round.
23. Fabio Coentrao, Real Madrid
A midseason injury to Real Madrid’s first-choice left-back Marcelo meant that Fabio Coentrao was deputised for the Brazilian in some crucial matches. Going into the Champions League final, the Portugal international has played each of Real Madrid’s last five matches in the competition, including both legs against Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
22. Marcelo, Real Madrid
Marcelo hasn’t played in the Champions League since February 26, when Real Madrid trounced Schalke 6-1. But in his six matches before succumbing to injury, he created 13 goal-scoring opportunities and contributed 11 interceptions.
21. Juanfran, Atletico Madrid
Atletico right-back Juanfran has missed just a single Champions League match this season—his side’s final group-stage encounter against Porto. The 29-year-old then contained his flank against AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea, as his side progressed all the way to the final.
20. Arda Turan, Atletico Madrid
Should Arda Turan miss Saturday’s final through injury, as Sky Sports has suggested, citing local media reports, that he could, Atletico Madrid will face their local rivals without one of their best all-around players—a bearded competitor who can both power past a full-back and throw himself into a challenge. In nine appearances in the Champions League, he has scored four goals and completed 87 per cent of his passes.
19. Daniel Carvajal, Real Madrid
Daniel Carvajal has enjoyed a breakout season at Real Madrid. Despite being 22 years old, he has nevertheless become Ancelotti’s first-choice right-back, and in addition to his 31 La Liga appearances, he has also turned out nine times in the Champions League—including each match during the knockout stages.
Crucially, he has also developed something of an understanding with right-sided attacker Gareth Bale.
18. Karim Benzema, Real Madrid
Karim Benzema scored the only goal of Real Madrid’s first-leg win at home to Bayern Munich in the semi-finals. The Frenchman has five tallies overall in the Champions League this season, and he has also contributed five assists. His movement off the ball continues to impress, especially with the likes of Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo buzzing from either side.
17. Miranda, Atletico Madrid
For a free transfer, Miranda has exceeded all expectations with Atletico Madrid, and going into the Champions League final, he has played in each of his side’s previous matches in the competition. The Brazilian also found the back of the net against both Zenit St. Petersburg and Austria Wien.
16. Diego, Atletico Madrid
Diego only arrived at Real Madrid in January, but the former Wolfsburg midfielder certainly made his presence felt in Atletico Madrid’s quarterfinal tie against Primera Division rivals Barcelona. Having replaced the injured Diego Costa after just 30 minutes at the Camp Nou, the Brazilian struck a thunderous goal from distance that helped Atletico to an impressive 1-1 draw.
15. Iker Casillas, Real Madrid
The arrangement at the start of the season was that Diego Lopez would represent Real Madrid in La Liga and Iker Casillas would keep goal in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League.
Casillas, 33, is now just a win away from helping Los Blancos secure a memorable double. He has kept six clean sheets in 12 Champions League appearances so far this season, and his status as a club icon will only be enhanced if he delivers La Decima.
14. Koke, Atletico Madrid
Koke missed only a pair of Primera Division matches, as Atletico Madrid won their first championship since 1996 last weekend, and he has so far featured in every one of Los Colchoneros Champions League encounters this term. The 22-year-old is seen as one of Spanish football’s up-and-coming midfielders, and his performances at continental level have done nothing to dissuade that notion.
13. Pepe, Real Madrid
Love him or hate him, it remains a fact that Pepe has played some of the best football of his career during the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League. Heroic in the two semi-final legs against Bayern Munich, the 31-year-old defender will be hoping to shake off a calf injury in time for Saturday’s Lisbon final.
12. Tiago, Atletico Madrid
Perhaps underappreciated in previous stops at Chelsea, Lyon and Juventus, Tiago is finally getting the recognition he deserves as one of the key cogs in the Atletico Madrid machine.
The recently turned 33-year-old was superb over two legs against Barcelona, and he also stood out against Chelsea in the second leg of the semi-final round. In six Champions League appearances this season, he has contributed an eye-popping 22 interceptions.
11. Xabi Alonso, Real Madrid
Xabi Alonso will not be a part of Saturday’s Champions League final. The Real Madrid midfielder is suspended for the contest, although in nine matches in the competitions this term he absolutely proved himself—completing 90 per cent of his passes and contributing 19 interceptions.
10. Filipe Luis, Atletico Madrid
When Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari announced his 23-man squad for the upcoming World Cup, the omission of Filipe Luis was perhaps his most surprising decision. The Atletico Madrid left-back has been tremendous this season, and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale will have his work cut out for him down the Brazilian’s flank on Saturday.
9. Diego Godin, Atletico Madrid
Diego Godin played in all six of Atletico Madrid’s knockout matches leading up to the final, and in the group stage, he found the back of the net against Porto. It’s been a memorable season for the Uruguay international. Last weekend he scored Atletico’s title-winning goal against Barcelona, and he’ll be looking to deliver similar heroics in the Champions League final.
8. Luka Modric, Real Madrid
Quietly, Luka Modric has put together one of the best campaigns of his career and one of the best by a midfielder in Europe in 2013-14. Extremely efficient on the ball (he has completed 92 per cent of his passes in the Champions League), he has also been effective off it—making 28 interceptions and closing down space in the centre of the park.
7. Gareth Bale, Real Madrid
Gareth Bale has been tormenting opposition full-backs all season. The right-sided forward has scored five goals so far in his first Champions League campaign as a Real Madrid player, and he’s also picked up four assists as part of Los Blancos’ vaunted attack alongside Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.
6. Gabi, Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid through and through, Gabi is finally catching the attention of the football world. The Atletico Madrid captain has been inspirational this season—leading his side to both a first title in 18 years and the Champions League final. In Europe, he has compiled four assists, completed 82 per cent of his passes, made 21 interceptions and provided the leadership by example that all winners require.
5. Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid
A favourite of the Madridistas, Sergio Ramos masterminded the "Massacre in Munich." The central defender’s two early goals against Bayern ensured progression to Saturday’s final, where he will no doubt be among the key figures once again. The 28-year-old has rarely lost a headed duel this season, and so far in the Champions League, he has completed an impressive 89 per cent of his passes.
4. Angel Di Maria, Real Madrid
Ancelotti’s switch to a 4-3-3 formation ensured that Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo would be most effective, but it also ended up getting the most out of Angel Di Maria. The Argentine maestro has been a difference-maker for Real Madrid this season, and in the Champions League, he has contributed three goals and five assists while making a nuisance of himself in the centre of the park.
3. Thibault Courtois, Atletico Madrid
It’s hard to imagine where Atletico Madrid would be without their superstar goalkeeper.
The 22-year-old Belgium international, Thibault Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, has played all but one of Los Colchoneros’ matches in the Champions League.
Of his 20 saves so far, 12 have been of the spectacular, diving variety. If Atletico are to triumph in Europe, they’ll need him to be at his absolute best against Real Madrid.
2. Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid
The news isn’t good regarding Diego Costa. The Atletico Madrid striker aggravated a hamstring injury against Barcelona last weekend, and according to the Mirror, he’s likely to miss Saturday’s Champions League final.
It would be a shame. In eight matches in the competition, the 25-year-old has scored eight goals and added an assist. He’s also the engine of Atletico’s forward line and one of the club’s most aggressive players.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Who else? All Cristiano Ronaldo has done is break the Champions League’s single-season goal-scoring record with 16 tallies in 10 matches, and he has also contributed three assists, as Real Madrid progressed to their first final since 2002.
Impressively, his passing accuracy (mostly in the final third) stands at 85 per cent, and he hasn’t been afraid to lend a hand on the defensive side of the ball, either. If big games call for big players, he’ll almost certainly be answering the bell on Saturday.
Statistics courtesy of Squawka.