Pitchside

Champions League final: Five key battles

Pitchside

With European football's premier club competition drawing to a dramatic close as nine-time champions Real Madrid prepare to face arch rivals Atletico, we take a look at the head-to-head battles between the key players on either side of the pitch.

Iker Casillas v Thibaut Courtois

View gallery

.

A clash of youth and experience. Courtois, 22, may be a more complete goalkeeper, with his extra height giving him an advantage with crosses, but 33-year-old Casillas has shown on many occasions that he has a knack of producing something special when required. Courtois has been a fundamental feature of the Atletico side all season and has made vital saves while Casillas has lost his first-team place in La Liga to Diego Lopez but has delivered when called on.

Sergio Ramos v Diego Godin

View gallery

.

There is little to choose between two defensive titans who provide leadership and personality at the back. Atletico's success has been based on their solidity and Godin plays a commanding role while Real are a more adventurous team and Ramos is the more comfortable player with the ball at his feet. Both have scored key goals this season in the air but Ramos is more adept at creating and scoring chances with the ball on the ground.

Angel Di Maria v Koke

View gallery

.

With his lighter frame and dexterity, Angel Di Maria is more agile than Koke. He is a spontaneous player who will look to beat a man and take risks while Koke is solid and reliable. Koke will measure his passes in midfield waiting for the right moment to deliver the ball into the box. The Atletico player is also a hard worker and will provide more defensive cover than Di Maria.

Gareth Bale v Arda Turan

View gallery

.

Both are valuable attacking options but they have very different styles as Arda's strength is his passing and close control while Bale looks to use his power and pace. Arda is a key player for Atletico due to their more limited creative options and without him they lack someone who can beat a player and deliver the killer ball. Arda has really shown his worth to the team this season while for Bale it has been a difficult time of adaptation and a series of injuries that have prevented him having a consistent run in the team. Still, world record buy Bale is a player who can turn a game with a dash of pace on the breakaway or a thunderbolt from distance.

Cristiano Ronaldo v David Villa

View gallery

.

In all likelihood, Atletico's Diego Costa will miss the final - despite receiving horse placenta treatment - so the battle up front will be contested by Cristiano Ronaldo and David Villa. Ronaldo may have the edge over Villa but both are crucial players for their sides and capable of winning matches with a piece of trickery, a burst of pace or an explosive shot.
Villa is more of an out-and-out striker and while he can come deep to pick up the ball he is most dangerous in the box. At just £4 million from Barcelona last summer, Villa has been the bargain of the year. Ronaldo has scored 31 goals in La Liga compared to Costa's 13 and the effects of a long season have taken their toll.

View Comments (7)
Write for Yahoo Sport