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san-siro-uclVictory in the Champions League final on Saturday could rest on how well either Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid defends, but both have a much different approach to that particular area of the game.

There is no better defence in Europe than that of Atleti, who only conceded 18 league goals in this campaign while stifling both Barcelona and Bayern Munich en route to the big match at Milan’s Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Sitting deep is the key behind their success, allowing their forwards to hit opponents on the counter attack.

zidane-v-simeoneTwo very different midfield styles will be on display in Saturday’s Champions League final in Milan but the midfield battle will be key to where the game is won or lost.

Real Madrid boast a finely tuned midfield, while Atletico Madrid are more renowned for their heart and physicality in the centre of the pitch.Real coach Zinedine Zidane has followed in the footsteps of predecessors Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez by having a midfield trio that offer balance in the middle of the park.

Having three players is essential because of the presence of a front three of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema leading the attack.

sergiuo-busquetsBarcelona have announced a new five-year deal for midfielder Sergio Busquets, which will see his release clause increased to €200 million.

The 27-year-old has established himself as the best defensive midfielder in the game and he will now be at the Camp Nou through to 2021. He is coming off what many consider to be his best season, making 53 appearances in helping lead Barcelona to the double.

madrid-derbyThe 2016 Champions League Final in the San Siro on Saturday will have a local flavor to it as city rivals Real and Atletico Madrid will meet in the final for the second time in three years.

In 2014 Real won 4-1 in the final in Lisbon, but the three goals in extra time ladled a bucket-load of gloss on the victory that completed ‘La Décima’ – Real Madrid’s tenth European Cup – but it would have been Atlético’s trophy had Sergio Ramos not cancelled out Diego Godín’s strike in the 93rd minute.

most-trophies-everOn Sunday, Barcelona beat Europa League champion Sevilla 2-0 in the Copa del Rey final after extra time to capture back to back domestic doubles after winning La Liga the previous week.

Barcelona also won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup this season, but you still get the sense that the season was a disappointment because Barca did retain it Champions League title.

“It was a very good season. You cannot always win the treble, but the double is a great season,” said Barcelona defender Jordi Alba, who scored the decisive goal on Sunday seven minutes into extra time at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid.

emery-sevillaAccording to reports out of England, Premier League side Everton have approached Sevilla boss Unai Emery about taking over from Roberto Martinez as manager at Goodison Park.

Emery led Sevilla to a third successive Europa League title on Wednesday when the Spanish club beat Everton’s fierce Merseyside rivals, Liverpool, 3-1 in Switzerland.

Sevilla are also due to face Barcelona in the final of the Copa del Rey tonight and Emery’s impressive achievements have won considerable admiration among the Everton hierarchy as they search for a new manager to take the club forward after a bitterly disappointing season under Martinez.

barca-champions2016Barcelona have solved whatever financial problems they might have with a massive kit-manufacturing deal with Nike.

According to Barcelona-based daily newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo the deal will be worth €155m (£120 million) a season and would run until 2026. That would dwarf the current £75 million a season, 10-year deal Manchester United agreed with Adidas last year.

The new kit deal makes it worth over €1B to Barca, money that can now used to sign Neymar and Luis Suarez to new deals, and also finance the expansion of the Camp Nou.

emery-sevillaSevilla boss Unai Emery was all smiles as he celebrated a third successive UEFA Europa League triumph, pinpointing the fans, Coke and a half-time reassessment.

We love this competition. It’s our competition. Liverpool were on top in the first half and logically they could have beat us. But the opposite was also true. We felt a lot more confident after our first goal. At half-time we tried to reorganise our heads a little. The team took a step forward after that and then it was open season. We needed to be ourselves.

sevilla-championsIt was a game of two halves in Basel on Wednesday night. In the first half Liverpool were terrific and deservedly lead 1- at half-time from a brilliantly taken Daniel Sturridge goal. Sevilla could not cope with Liverpool’s high tempo and press, as Emre Can, James Milner and Adam Lallana dominated the midfield. With a bit of luck the English side could have went into halftime with more than that one goal lead.

logo_euro_2016Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has announced his provisional pre Euro 2016 squad and the omissions of Diego Costa and Fernando Torres have raised more than a few eyebrows. In addition to Costa and Torres, Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla will also miss out on the Euros.

Costa has never been a fan favorite following the switch from his native Brazil to Spain ahead of the 2014 World Cup finals. While Costa has been a prolific goalscorer at club level, he has found goals at international level harder to come by, scoring only once in a qualifying match against Luxembourg.