Two of the world’s truly elite sport teams, Barcelona and Real Madrid’s monopoly within football is big. No club outside of the two has lifted the Champions League trophy since 2013; in this century alone, they’ve won 13 out of the 17 possible La Liga titles. And this weekend, the pair face each other at the Santiago Bernabéu in a huge match that can make the host champions elect, or bring the away side right back into contention in the title race that means everything to their fans.
During his extremely successful six-year spell in Spain, Diego Simeone has built and maintained a side that’s helped to see Atlético Madrid’s status rise to the level of an international superpower. With five trophies to his name, including silverware from La Liga (2013/14) and the Europa League (2011/12), the club have undoubtedly been going through one of the best periods in their history under his leadership.
When Marcelino was named as Villarreal’s manager back in January 2013, the club from Castellón were in a dire position for the first time in a long while. The season prior to that they’d been playing Champions League football, but a combination of injuries and all sorts of other issues during that year resulted in a shock relegation – a fate that threatened to suddenly tear apart all the good progress that had been made by them since the turn of the century.
Hopes were extremely high for the initial meeting of Man City and Monaco in the Champions League three weeks ago. After they played out a thrilling 5-3 in the first leg at The Etihad, it's fair to say that the anticipation was more than justified. So, naturally, there was good reason to be excited about this return game in Fontvieille too – and once again the pair delivered.