The Euroleague Final Four is ready to begin on May 18th in Belgrade. The more exciting of the first two matchups is Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow. If you are interested in wagering on the Final Four, be sure to check out the Euroleague betting odds. Here are the keys to the game for each team.
- Take time to Heal
After a series of serious injuries left Madrid short-handed and struggling to find enough fit players for much of the regular season, Los Blancos are now happily facing the opposite scenario. Madrid clinched first place in its domestic league on May 3, giving the team two full weeks outside a high-pressure environment to prepare for the Final Four. Most importantly, that has allowed Coach Pablo Laso to rotate his players and give fit-again Sergio Llull the chance to gradually ease himself back towards full fitness, meaning last season’s MVP should reach Belgrade in very good shape.
- Use Their Size Advantage
Another reason for Madrid optimism ahead of the semifinal is the fact that CSKA’s tallest player in its current rotation is Andrey Vorontsevich (2.07 meters), who tends to play away from the basket. Its main rim protectors are Kyle Hines (1.98 m) and Othello Hunter (2.03 m). Madrid therefore can enjoy a significant size advantage in the paint where Gustavo Ayon (2.08 m), Anthony Randolph (2.11 m) and especially Edy Tavares (2.20 m) will be looking to do some damage. Neither Zalgiris nor Fenerbahce can match the size of Tavares either, so the secret to Madrid’s success in Belgrade could lie in the paint.
- Pay Attention to the details
The presence of Hunter and Llull – and Leo Westermann if CSKA goes on to face Zalgiris – will further help Coach Itoudis develop his strategy for the Final Four, and you can be sure that the Greek coach will have his players perfectly prepared for the task that lies ahead. Itoudis has an insatiable work ethic and an attention to detail that transfers to his players, allowing him to achieve commendable consistency since arriving in Moscow in 2014. Itoudis recently achieved the accolade of becoming the joint-fastest coach to record 100 wins in EuroLeague history, and you can be absolutely sure that many more will follow.
- Use the Belgrade Advantage
The Russian powerhouse has won eight of its last 10 showdowns in the Serbian capital, including series-clinching playoffs games against Partizan in 2009 and Crvena Zvezda in 2016. It has played a lot of high-pressure games in Belgrade, and has won most of them, making Itoudis’s men well placed to deal with the unique atmosphere sure to be generated inside Stark Arena. In fact, a few CSKA players have thrived in Belgrade, such as Andrey Vorontsevich, who tied a career-high with 5 three-pointers made there last season, and Kyle Hines, who has had several highly-productive games there over the years. This season CSKA was the only Final Four team to play at the arena, gaining a comprehensive 59-85 win over Zvezda in Round 7; Fenerbahce, Madrid and Zalgiris all played their regular season games in Belgrade at another venue, the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall.
Prediction: CSKA Moscow wins a close match to move onto the championship game.