For the first time in the history of the European cup in both of its stages the 2014 final was contested by two team from the same city. Atletico had been there only once up to that point, whilst their bitter enemies Real were looking to achieve 'La Decima' an unprecedented 10th European cup success.
For all their success and power and wealth the Champions League in recent times has been hard to come by for the club, their first victory after 12 years is a long time for a club of their stature, however they have made it and will be a force to be reckoned with in this campaign.
The regular process of recruiting 'Galacticos' driven by president Florentino Perez has not ceased over the years and as prices inflate they continue to bring the world's top stars to the club, this summer has been no different.
With the World Cup taking centre stage it has provided the platform for most players taking part to enhance their reputations and Madrid have certainly bought talent.
The recruitment of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez and Keylor Navas for a combined €100 million typifies this approach; Kroos was perhaps the most talented attacking midfielder at the World Cup, Rodriguez was the golden boot winner at the age of 22 and Navas was widely lauded as one of the stand out goalkeepers at the tournament.
One concern for the defence of the title is the issue that there hasn't been any investment in defence, which has widely been seen as the weak link in their star studded squad.
Question marks remain over a number of players, Pepe being the butt of most of the flak. No doubt the 6'2 Portugal defender is a good player but the fact he isn't considered world class coupled with his extraordinary temper - 95 yellow cards and six red cards is quite some record - have cost him and sometimes his team dearly at times.
Sergio Ramos on the other hand is a completely different animal altogether. He's got a mind boggling 166 career yellow cards and 19 red cards which seems impossible for a player who is so talented. Ramos isn't seen a dirty player as such, most of his cards are attributed to over zealous and rash defending which blots his talent at the heart of defence.
Aside from this they form a good partnership and also contribute goals. The fullbacks are less of an issue, Marcelo and Carvajal are reliable and good technically in their positions, although it's not a major issue as investment in this area must be on Perez's mind in his next spree.
Something that Real do not lack is attacking talent, they boast possibly the most formidable front line in world football. Two players have been world record holders for transfers - Ronaldo and Bale - whilst Karim Benzema is spearheading the trio who netted 97 goals in all competitions.
Madrid demonstrated their credentials further last campaign by the one-sided demolition of holders Bayern in the semi final second leg of their semi-final.
The Germans were being hailed as the best side in the world at the time and were expected to reach the final in a tight affair but instead were blown away by Madrid's counter-attacking approach.
Bayern's 69% possession, higher shots count, and corners all proved for nothing when Madrid expertly soaked up the pressure and hit them before they had time to act. The evident shift of styles that hits football now and again was no more evident than in this game; possession dominance and passing was no longer the king, instead expert counter attacking and lightning fast breaks have become the order of the day, Madrid employed this tactic to devastating effect and teams such as Liverpool and Atletico also had excellent domestic campaigns playing this style, and Holland also dismantled Spain in this manner during the World Cup.
In the grand scope of the Champions League proper, Madrid being holders will be seeded in pot one and will be the dominant team in their group, however in recent seasons they haven't been given an easy ride, playing teams such as Juventus, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax in recent years. But still they have qualified top of their group three out of the past four years, and much focus will be again on the fact that in its current format the Champions League has never been successfully defended, however Real like breaking records.
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