Manero

The Champions League Final Handbook

By: Mariano Trujillo*

WHO’S GOING TO WIN: It’s hard to give a forecast, because this Champions League has been marked by surprises. But if I’m pushed to call a winner, I think it’s going to be Real Madrid.

KEYS TO THE MATCH: This final will be decided on details. Atlético got here because its game has neared perfection during the tournament; when a player makes a mistake, there’s always another one to fix it. And goalie Courtois is exceptional, a pillar to this team and one of the reasons they’ve made it to the final. But if you look at Real Madrid, you see that the speed of their players, like Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, make it a very dangerous squad when they get any space in their rival’s area. Knowing that, Atlético will not allow for any mistakes in the back, and will try to wear the strikers of Real out, make them lose their patience. And if that happens, Atlético players like Diego Costa (who will probably be alone on the attack) or Koke can get the space to do some damage. Finally, expect a lot of physical contact, especially in the area of Real Madrid.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: In Real Madrid, we all know what players to watch, from Cristiano Ronaldo down... But the key to this match will be that midfielder Xabier Alonso won’t play, so all the responsibility will fall onto Asier Illarramendi. In Atlético, Diego Costa, Koke, Raúl García and defender Juanfran.

HARDEST THING FOR A SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Both as a broadcaster and as an ex-professional player, the biggest challenge is to connect your audience with the player’s perspective—what is that particular player thinking right now, why did he miss that shot. Those are the details you can only know if you’ve been on the field.

BEST PLACE TO WATCH A GAME (OTHER THAN THE STADIUM): I’m very passionate about soccer—so I jump, kick and scream while watching. Other than the stadium, the best place to watch a game is at home, with friends who feel that same passion for the game. And with a barbecue, of course.

*As told to José Manuel Simián

LOGISTICS: May 24, 2:30pm ET, The 2014 UEFA Champions League Final, broadcast on FOX Deportes

Mariano Trujillo is a retired footballer who played for several Mexican teams and Chivas USA. He is currently a commentator for FOX Sports.