May 12, 2016
Champions Cup Final Preivew - Saracens v Racing 92
The Champions Cup final kicks off at 17:45 on Saturday and at full time there will be a new name on the European trophy. This is a final between two teams who are relative newcomers to this stage of the European competition. Saracens have been here once before, in 2014, but for Racing 92 this will be their first appearance in a European final.
The contest will be a battle between the tournament’s best attack and its best defence. Saracens have averaged the most points per game of any side in the tournament while Racing have the tightest defence, conceding only 12.8 points per game.
The sides have met five times previously. Racing were victorious in the first meeting back in 2010/11 but since then it is Saracens who have taken the spoils. Yet the stats from the competition so far this season show very little between the two sides. Their respective routes to the finals have seen Saracens average slightly more points per game but in areas such as carries, tackling success and scrum success the margins are slim.
From the stats Saracens will be keeping a close eye on Racing’s Brice Dulin who has made the most metres for the French side (659), the most offloads (10) and the second most carries (74). Scrum half Maxime Machenaud is also in good form going into the final and Luke Charteris will be looking to disrupt Saracens at the line out. All eyes will also be on Dan Carter whose experience will be a key asset for Racing. Saracens however will not be getting too caught up in Carter fever and will look to their collective experience gained over the last four years as kick off approaches.
Saracens’ unbeaten run to the final of the competition has been a huge team effort but if you were to pick one key man to watch on Saturday based on performances in the competition it may well be Owen Farrell. Top pointers scorer in the competition with 106 points to his name Farrell has had a stellar European run. His attacking game has shone and he tops Saracens stats for offloads (11), try assists and is second only to Billy Vunipola in their defenders beaten tallies.
Both sides have beaten some Europe’s finest teams on their way to Lyon. Saracens have dispatched the likes of Ulster, Toulouse and Wasps and Racing have emerged victorious against Leicester Tigers and last year’s champions Toulon.
Past European finals have been tight affairs, with 14 out of 20 being decided by a margin of seven points or less. This one is shaping up to be no different.