Champions League Final Preview Part Two: Souness, Carragher and Redknapp pick winner
Souness, Carragher and Redknapp discuss and debate who will win the Champions League Final.
Last Updated: 23/05/14 10:53am
skysports.com: Does the fact the final is being played between two neighbouring teams from the same city change the complexion of the final? Will it have a local derby feel, even though it is being played in Lisbon.
REDKNAPP: When you get a final with two teams in it who are local rivals the first thing you think is it's going to be closely contested. Although we all hope there's an early goal and it's a thrilling, open game, this is a match which could well require extra-time. Tactically, I think it will be really tight final.
CARRA: I think it will feel like a local derby and they are normally tight affairs - as are most games against Atletico Madrid. I think there's possibly more pressure - if there can be for a Champions League Final - because of the fact it's against your city rivals. This is the first time it's happened and they will probably never meet again in a Champions League final, so it's the biggest game that will ever be played between the two clubs. The thought of losing puts the pressure on, especially for Real Madrid because they're seen as the bigger club with more history, even though Atletico won the league. There is more pressure on them because losing to their city rivals who are seen as a smaller club would last for a lifetime. I don't think this situation will come around again.
SOUNESS: I don't think it matters who you are playing; you are playing in a European Cup Final and it's a special occasion. You are lucky if you play in one of them so I don't think there will be any worries about playing a team from the same city. This is all about the biggest game that most of them have ever played in. Some of them have played in a World Cup Final, but other than that this is the biggest game you can play in.
skysports.com: Real Madrid have been seeking to become the first club to win the European Cup 10 times ever since their last victory back in 2002. Will talk of "La Decima" put too much pressure on the players?
CARRA: It may do. There has probably been that pressure on the players for the last few years and that's why they haven't done so well in the Champions League. It seems like it has become an obsession now to get the 10th one and get into double figures. It will happen eventually, but whether it happens on Saturday, who knows? In the future it will be difficult for anyone to ever claw Real Madrid back as they are a few European Cups ahead of AC Milan, Bayern Munich and the rest.
REDKNAPP: They're giants of Europe but it's been a while since they've won the big one so they'll appreciate how big an opportunity this is to finally get their hands back on the trophy. It will be some effort from Bale in his first season to help them to the Champions League - but it's not going to be straightforward.
SOUNESS: Many of the players have not been there for the 12 years since they won the last one, so the failure to win one in that time is nothing to do with them. They will see this as their moment in time and I don't think the wait will play on a player's mind whatsoever. For a group of players, it's all about your moment and your chance to become part of history - not about the past. Saturday night is their chance to become part of Real Madrid history.
skysports.com: What sort of achievement would it be for a club to win this competition for the 10th time?
CARRA: It's double figures, it's a round number and it will be a big thing for them - but the European Cup is big anyway. This is something they've been talking about for a long time though - the Zidane volley at Hampden Park was the last time they won it and that was a long time ago for a club like Real Madrid.
REDKNAPP: This is the title Real Madrid really want, and you can imagine there will be huge celebrations if they can win their 10th European Cup.
SOUNESS: I have to choose my words carefully, but Real Madrid are arguably the biggest football club in the world with the largest profile in the world and they will see having not won the Champions League since 2002 as a stat that they cannot be proud of. If you see yourself as the biggest club in the world you should be winning this trophy on a regular basis and that's something they've not been doing.
skysports.com: Real Madrid scored three times in the first 35 minutes in the semi-final second leg at Bayern Munich. Do you expect them to attack from the start on Saturday?
SOUNESS: That's the way Real Madrid like to play, they go for the throat from the first kick of the ball. I don't think they're geared up to play any other way with the maverick talents they have available to them.
CARRA: Against Bayern Munich they played a counter-attacking game and whether they'll be able to do it against Atletico Madrid I'm not so sure because they like to sit deep and play on the counter-attack themselves. It will be interesting how both teams set up and because Real Madrid are supposedly the bigger team it feels like the onus is maybe on them to take the game to Atletico, especially as they have one of the best players, if not the best player in the world, in Cristiano Ronaldo.
REDKNAPP: I actually think this final has a lot of similarities to last year's final, when Bayern Munich played Borussia Dortmund. Like Munich, Real have all the big names, while Atletico, like Dortmund, have the ability to make life very difficult for their opponents. In the end, I think Real's star players, Ronaldo and Bale, will just make the difference but it's going to be a very close contest and isn't easy to call.
skysports.com: Atletico Madrid's win at Barcelona last Saturday clinched the La Liga title for them. How do you think that triumph ranks in terms of sporting achievements?
SOUNESS: They have been fantastic and you don't win it by accident. You win it because you've been the best team, the most consistent team, you've made the fewest mistakes and you've generally conceded fewer and scored more goals than anyone else. They have certainly defended better than anyone else and when you factor it all in they deserve to win it - but you have to remember that, for me, La Liga is not the strongest league in the world, even though they have three very special teams.
CARRA: They've been brilliant. For years it's always been Barcelona and Real Madrid and that has always been the biggest club game in world football to watch. The quality we've seen in the last few years, especially when Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho were there, was as good as you'll ever see and it was always so hard for other teams to compete - so for Atletico Madrid to win the league title is a monumental achievement from Diego Simeone.
skysports.com: Will the league win help their chances on Saturday or will the celebrations have taken something out of them?
CARRA: It helps them, definitely. It will have given them a massive lift. Can you imagine losing the league on the final day and then having to get yourselves up for a Champions League Final? I think that blow would have been very difficult to deal with. It's definitely a massive thing for them to win it because it creates confidence and belief that they are the best team in Spain and that's why they will feel they can win it.
SOUNESS: They can play with a lot more freedom than Real Madrid can. Nobody expected them to win that league because they were 24 points off winning the league last year, so fair play to them. They can go into the game having had a great season already and no matter what happens they have had a great season. In contrast, Real Madrid will have had a nightmare season if they don't win it. All the pressure will be on one side at the weekend.
REDKNAPP: For Atletico to have won the league it's already been a brilliant season for them. But make no mistake, they'll go again. Their La Liga win won't be a distraction at all, if anything it will give them more confidence they can do this. They've beaten all the big sides they've needed to this year and they'll go into this final with more belief than ever.
skysports.com: What has been the secret of Atletico's success this season?
REDKNAPP: Atletico Madrid are an incredible side, really. Most teams that get to a Champions League final are filled with big-name players but Atletico are like a band of brothers who have been pulled together. They've got a determined mentality and a South American-Spanish attitude: they can be nasty if they need to be and mix it with the physical sides but they can also play lovely football. They're a fantastic football side - and their starting XI against Chelsea in the semi-final cost less than £30m. This final really is the princes v the paupers.
CARRA: Obviously Diego Costa has scored a lot of goals, but it's about the team. You don't look at them and think they've got three or four absolute star players and they are probably an example for every team out there because they don't spend massive money and at times they have lost their best players and come back. It looks like the team does a lot of work on the training ground and they are a very difficult team to play against. You don't get to this level without quality players, but in every game they give everything and it's about more than individual players.
SOUNESS: I was mightily impressed with them against Chelsea when they were fabulous and went a goal behind but found another gear to come back and win the game. Again at the weekend they went behind to Barcelona and came back. They have got that never-say-die attitude, as they showed in those two games and many more throughout the season to win La Liga. They are a real team and believe in each other. Over a season the team with the best work-rate wins - and that's what has happened this year without the need to rely on two or three individuals to get you past the winning post. They have relied on the collective.
skysports.com: What sort of game do you expect and how do you see it going?
SOUNESS: There are so many top players on the pitch that could change the game with one piece of magic and that makes it a hard one to call. What you can say is that Real Madrid are not such a solid outfit, but have some very, very special players and maverick talents in Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo against a team whose whole basis is built on being a team. They all work their socks off for each other and are not relying on one or two individuals.
CARRA: Atletico are very good defensively and will want to keep things tight, as they always do. They will make themselves difficult to break down and try to get that goal that they need. They are a very difficult team to score against. However, my tip was Real Madrid from the very start of the competition so I can't change now. I think it will be a very difficult game for them, but I've gone with them from the start of the competition so I'll go for a 2-1 win to Real Madrid.
REDKNAPP: I think the pressure is on Real Madrid, I really do. The Spanish cup isn't enough for Real this year, after signing Bale in the summer. The Champions League and the Spanish cup, though, is enough. So there's lots of pressure on them to win this game. Atletico, on the other hand, have La Liga and, as I said, I think that will spur them on and fill them with belief, rather than have affected their preparations negatively. But I think Real will cope with that pressure and win the game. Just. It will be tight but I think they have enough quality. I'm going for 2-1, which is probably more goals than people would expect but I think they'll just pip it, with Bale and Ronaldo giving them the edge.
SOUNESS: I think Atletico Madrid will win it. There's a question mark against Ronaldo's fitness and I hope it's not a case of him being on there for 10 minutes and having to come off, but hamstrings are notorious and if he goes off it would make Atletico bigger favourites. It is a really hard one to call, but I watched Atletico at the weekend and they coped with what Barcelona threw at them quite comfortably. They are a team - in every sense of the word - who all believe in each other playing against a team who are relying on their star man, Ronaldo, to be the special one on the night - plus Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to a lesser extent. It's a tough call, but I'll just go for Atletico.