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May 23, 2014

An all-Madrid final

The UEFA Champions League final is Saturday at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal, as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid meet in the second Champions League final between Spanish clubs, and the first between teams from the same city. Here is a statistical look at the match, complete with the Soccer Power Index projection.

Atletico Madrid won La Liga for the first time since the 1995-96 season and became the first non-Barcelona/Real Madrid champion of the league in 10 years. Despite finishing third, three points behind Atletico, Real is still rated slightly higher according to SPI, and lifts the trophy 60 percent of the time in a neutral-site matchup.

- FC TV: Can Atleti stop Ronaldo?
- Cox: Sizing up the tactical battle

This matchup pits SPI's highest-rated offensive team in Real Madrid against its highest-rated defensive team in Atletico Madrid. Real scored 104 goals in La Liga this season, the most in the five major European leagues (Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France). Atletico conceded 26 goals in 38 league matches, seven fewer than any other team in La Liga. Real is also the highest-scoring team in this year's Champions League with 37 goals, while Atletico has conceded just six in its 12 matches, tied for the fewest in the competition.

Atletico kept 20 clean sheets in league play, most in La Liga and tied for the fourth-most in the Big 5 Leagues. Real scored three or more goals in 21 of its 38 league matches, most in La Liga and tied with Liverpool for the most times in the Big 5 leagues. Along with leading the Big 5 leagues in goals, Real had the most shots and shots on goal. Real was led by Cristiano Ronaldo, who had the most goals (31), shots (216) and shots on goal (93) of any player in the Big 5 leagues this season. Ronaldo alone averaged 3.1 shots on target per La Liga match this season, while Atletico allowed just 2.5 per match as a team, fewest in the Big 5 leagues.

Atletico could be without striker Diego Costa, who injured his hamstring in the 1-1 draw with Barcelona this past weekend. He led Atletico in goals, shots and shots on target this season. In addition, he had 234 touches in the attacking penalty area in league play this season, most in La Liga, and his 6.7 such touches per match were more than twice as many as anyone else on Atletico.

While Ronaldo will be the player to key in on for Atletico defensively, it will also need to focus on stopping Angel di Maria, who led the Big 5 leagues with 15 assists and was second in La Liga with 87 chances created. Di Maria had 10 of his assists on crosses, most in La Liga.

Real Madrid created 157 chances on crosses this season, most in the Big 5 leagues. Its 23 assists from crosses were most in La Liga, while Atletico was tied for second with 20. Atletico scored 13 goals from corners, which was the most in La Liga and tied with Manchester City for the most in the Big 5 leagues. This may not be easy against Real, which led La Liga by winning 59.4 percent of aerial duels. Real was even better on aerials in the defending penalty area, winning 65.9 percent, second-best in the Big 5 Leagues.

One other area in which both teams did well was through balls. Atletico was tied for the most assists on through balls in La Liga with nine, and Real was right behind with eight, doing so on 35 chances, second most in La Liga. Atletico may find more success with the through ball in the final, however, as Real Madrid allowed opponents to complete 46.4 percent of through balls, while Atletico allowed only a 21.7 completion percentage (La Liga average was 37.1 percent).

If Real is not able to get into the box with ease, it may not be a problem. Real's average goal in La Liga came from 15.1 yards out, the farthest in La Liga. Real scored 23 goals from outside the penalty area, most in La Liga; the league average was eight. Atletico, on the other hand, scored six goals from outside the penalty area, and its average shot distance of 17.4 yards was the shortest in La Liga.