The 2014 UEFA Champions League final is shaping up as the classic clash between attack and defence. Real Madrid, gunning for La Decima, the club's 10th European Cup, represent an attack-first mentality.
By contrast, city rivals Atletico are a homage to defensive resilience and structural discipline. Their band of uncompromising tough tacklers reflects the one-time playing style of manager Diego Simeone.
Of course, Simeone's men haven't made it to a final without a scoring edge. But that edge could be blunted by the potential injury-enforced absence of two key starts.
Here are some key stats ahead of this Madrid derby on Saturday.
16 goals and five assists: The impact of Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria
Los Blancos boast the tournament's top scorer, as well as one of the competition's most prolific creators. Cristiano Ronaldo leads the way with 16 goals, a full six ahead of his nearest rival.
|2014 UEFA Champions League top 5 Scorers|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||16||10|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Paris Saint-Germain||10||8|
|Diego Costa||Atletico Madrid||8||8|
|Lionel Messi||FC Barcelona||8||7|
|Sergio Aguero||Manchester City||6||6|
|UEFA.com and WhoScored.com|
It's easy to see just how dominant Ronaldo has been during this season's CL action. One of the reasons he has tormented defences more than usual has been the presence of Angel di Maria.
The fleet-footed and tricky Argentina international has been galvanized by the arrival of manager Carlo Ancelotti. The experienced Italian coach decided to move the one-time winger into a central position.
That switch has allowed Di Maria to play a bridging role between the midfield and forward lines. It's a role players such as Rui Costa and Kaka once performed for Ancelotti at AC Milan.
The extra responsibility has clearly coaxed the best from Di Maria. The often inconsistent 26-year-old has emerged as a vital playmaker this season.
The former Benfica man has five assists in this season's CL, per UEFA.com. That is good enough to make Di Maria the joint-second-most consistent provider in the tournament.
Significantly, he is joined in second spot by teammate Karim Benzema. Fellow Real forward Gareth Bale is just one assist behind. That is ample evidence of Real's ability to create chances and goals against even the most stubborn defences.
As the spine of Ancelotti's attacking force, if Di Maria and Ronaldo click in Lisbon, even Atletico will struggle to contain them and keep a clean sheet.
The Arda Turan effect
The potential absence of star striker Diego Costa has naturally generated most of the headlines. But not having fiendishly clever winger Arda Turan available could be just as significant for Atletico.
A shrewd and technically adept schemer, Turan adds vital flair to Atletico's hard graft. Writing for the Guardian Sport Network, WhoScored.com scribe Martin Laurence emphasizes Turan's significance:
That only Costa has scored more goals for the club in the Champions League this season than Arda (four) will be a worry. The 27-year old playmaker has perhaps not been at his best this season, particularly in the league having scored fewer goals (three) in 30 La Liga appearances than he has in seven Champions League matches, but remains a key creative player nonetheless.
It's no coincidence that since he joined in 2011, Atlético have scored more goals per game (1.81) with Arda in the starting line-up than without him (1.55). Despite not being on top form, the midfielder has still created a chance from open play more often than any other team-mate to make five or more La Liga starts this season (every 58.4 minutes).
Without Turan's creative influence, Atletico may struggle to build attacks to exploit Real's questionable defence. That's a reality Simeone may have to face.
Turan was injured during Atletico's season-finale draw away to FC Barcelona, per EuroSport.com. However, the Turkish international did participate in Atletico's latest pre-final training session, per AS writer Sandra del Estal.
Thibaut Courtois is a formidable stopper, but Real have exploited him before
Atletico's on-loan goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, represents a formidable barrier for Ronaldo and Co. to overcome. The towering Belgian, loaned out for the past three seasons by English Premier League club Chelsea, is vital to Simeone's defence.
Courtois has conceded just 36 goals and kept 28 clean sheets in 55 matches, per stats provided by Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror. Of those 28 times Courtois has forced the opposition to draw a blank, five have come in the Champions League, per UEFA.com.
Getting past Courtois is no easy task, even for a team with Real's firepower. However, it should be noted that Courtois has conceded five times in his last two meetings against Los Merengues.
He was exposed in a 2-2 draw in La Liga, as well as a 3-0 second-leg defeat in the Copa del Rey, part of a 5-0 aggregate thumping. Courtois' recent struggles against the local enemy could be a worrying omen for Atletico.
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