The Ultimate Madrid Derby: This weekend’s Champions League Final in Lisbon, Portugal looks set to feature some of the most exciting individual battles between the world’s best footballers and their boots!
When Iker Casillas made his first team bow for Real Madrid, a seven year old Thibaut Courtois had only just made the switch from left back to goalkeeper. The match up between Courtois and Casillas is very much one that represents the new class of goalkeepers versus the old.
Courtois is a goalkeeper that has experienced a meteoric rise to fame with Atletico Madrid, and at the age of 22 has yet to reach his goalkeeping prime. The Belgian has enjoyed three great seasons with Atletico Madrid and will be hoping to cap it off in style with the a domestic and European double before what has to be an imminent move back to Chelsea. On his feet Courtois will be wearing the World Cup colourway for the Nike Tiempo Legend IV, the same boot that will be on his feet come his first match for Belgium in Brasil.
At the other end of the pitch will be the indomitable Iker Casillas. The 33 year old captains his club and country, has won all the major club trophies to be won, is Spain’s most capped played and is one of the best (to some the best) goalkeepers of all time. Despite the fact that Casillas has endured more than his fair share of success throughout his glittering career he will be hoping to add to the two Champions League winner medals he already owns. A Reebok man earlier in his career, Casillas is now one of the faces of adidas football, so it is only fitting that he will be wearing the exciting new battle pack adidas Predator Instinct.
In front of either goalkeeper will be two of the best centre backs currently in Europe.
Diego Godin stood out not only in boot choice (he was wearing the dual coloured Puma EvoPower tricks) but also in his performance as he scored a beyond crucial goal for Atleti in their last match against Barcelona to effectively hand them the title. The Uruguayan centre back will be will aware that the Champions League final will be another tough test for his back four, especially if one Cristiano Ronaldo gest into his grove.
Pepe has made a name for himself throughout the past couple of seasons as one of the most combative and dominant centre backs in the game. The Brasilian is often unfairly criticised for dirty play, especially as he has yet to receive a red card in the last two seasons, but yet definitely has a reputation amongst football fans. Alongside Sergio Ramos, he is an integral part of one of the most formidable pairings in European football and will have to be on top of his game for one last time before he jets off to his native Brasil for the World Cup. Expect to see him in the same Nike Tiempo colourway that Thibaut Courtois will be wearing.
Xabi Alonso’s yellow card in the second leg of Real Madrid’s semi-final means that he will be sitting out of what would have been one of the biggest games of his life. His absence makes the inevitable battle at the center of midfield all the more intriguing. Luka Modric will look to be at the beginning of all of Real’s attacks, but will have to play a more conservative role as Atleti midfielders Gabi and Tiago look to exploit the relative inexperience of Illiarimendi.
Alongside captain Gabi, European journeyman and former Chelsea man, Tiago, will form the core of Atletico’s midfield. Tiago has become an integral part of the this Atletico team after initially joining the team on loan back in 2010. Be sure to keep an eye out for Tiago’s battle pack adidas NitroCharge, one of five boots that adidas released for the World Cup that features a design inspired by battle paint and animal print.
While Luka Modric initially had a slow start to his Real Madrid career as he was kept out of the starting line up by the likes of Ozil and Khedira thanks to his consistency this season he has cemented his position in the starting line up. His great vision and work rate should prove to be extremely helpful for Madrid on the night, along with his pace and agility that is reflected in his boot of choice being the Mercurial Vapor.
On the wings Arda Turan and Gareth Bale, two players that have truly come into their own this year, will be looking to cap off great seasons.
Since his days of captaining Galatasary Turan has been somewhat of a known danger man in European football. However, his contributions to Atletico this season has propelled him to the next level and he is currently one of the names on everyones lips. Turan will also be wearing an exciting pair of boots in the form of the innovative Nike Magista, a boot that he first debuted against Barcelona last weekend. While Turan is a doubt for the Champions League final we are keeping our fingers crossed that he is deemed fit enough to play so that he has the chance to conjure up some magic on the wing.
Gareth Bale will be playing in the biggest game of his life, and as heir-apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo the eyes on the world will be trained on the Welshman. He made a point that he can perform on the big stage with a stunning individual goal in the final of the Copa del Rey and will be hoping to put in a big show today. Bale is one of adidas’biggest players and so will have his blistering pace complimented by the recently released adidas adiZero battle pack colourway.
We’ve slowly been building up to the big one, the battle between two of football’s most powerful players in the form of Diego Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo, providing the latter plays.
Diego Costa has been an absolute beast this season, scoring 27 goals in 35 appearances for Atletico in the league and an even more impressive 8 in 8 in Europe. While a recurring thigh strain took him out of Atletico’s last game against Barcelona, news is that Costa may well be fit for the final. If his current scoring record in Europe means anything, the likelihood is that if he plays, he will probably score.
There is no bigger superstar in world football at the moment than Cristiano Ronaldo. This season has been his most prolific yet, scoring 50 goals in 46 appearances, a whopping 16 of which have come in European competition. Ronaldo will be looking to add to his one Champions League title that he secured with Manchester United back in 07-08, and if he succeeds in doing so it will be further proof of his title of “World’s Best Player”. Ronaldo has so far been wearing the Nike Mercurial Vapors, but we reckon that the Champions League Final is as big of an occasion as any for him to debut the new Nike Mercurial Superfly that he will be wearing in the World Cup. Just a prediction though, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!