Champions Cup Final: Saracens v Clermont Auvergne

The last meeting between these two was a 2015 Semi Final where Clermont scraped by 13 – 9 in their fortress Stade Marcel-Michelin. They had battled it out earlier that season in the pool stage, each winning their home tie, so these two know each other well. That 2015 semi final, incredibly, was the last time Saracens lost in Europe! Tomorrow is the culmination of two unbeaten champions cup campaigns for the English outfit, a remarkable achievement! Clermont, the bridesmaids in 2013 and 2015 are desperate for that elusive final win. They’re hoping that third time is a charm but are facing their toughest final task to date.

We’ve all seen favourites upset in finals, but I just can’t see a fairytale ending this time for Rougerie and Clermont. Every neutral wants to see Clermont rewarded, but they also know it’s unlikely. Saracens travel to Edinburgh as hot favourites, and deservedly so. This Saracens team is ruthless. We saw how much heart and endeavour Munster brought to the semi final and how little good it did them. If I have a little hope for Clermont it’s because Parra and Lopez were so clinical in the semi final win against Leinster. They took points when on offer, something Munster failed to do against Saracens. Lopez’s two drop goals proved to be the difference in the end. Against Saracens who won’t give up many scoring opportunities, identifying when to sit back in the pocket and have a drop could be crucial. It’s an underused tactic in my opinion but Lopez seems to know it’s worth. I expect Clermont to show passion and fight but Saracens are operating at a different level. They are patient in defence and clinical in attack. They take some body shots but never overly expose themselves, and when they’re ready to punch back, they pummel the opposition into the ropes. Circa the 55th minute watch Brits and Burger enter and tell me it’s a fair fight! The reigning champions had the luxury of resting their star players in their last two English Premiership games. They are fresh, and with their half a dozen Lions, I can’t see past them.

Key Matchups

David Strettle v Chris Ashton – The two shunned English wingers don’t line up opposite each other, but are the dangermen to watch. Nick Abendanon, another English exile, is tasked with looking after Ashton. Strettle was playing for Saracens back in 2015 so it will interesting to see if he can be the thorn in his former team’s side.

Goal kickers – In last year’s final Owen Farrell kicked 7 penalties in a 21-9 win against Racing Metro. Saracens will happily let his boot do the work so Parra and Lopez must be slotting them if they’re to have a chance.

Clermont Auvergne

15. Scott Spedding

14. David Strettle

13. Aurélien Rougerie

12. Remi Lamerat

11. Nick Abendanon

10. Camille Lopez

9. Morgan Parra

1. Raphael Chaume

2. Benjamin Kayser

3. Davit Zirakashvili

4. Arthur Iturria

5. Sébastien Vahaamahina

6. Damien Chouly (c)

7. Peceli Yahoo

8. Fritz Lee

Replacements

16. John Ulugia

17. Etienne Falgoux

18. Aaron Jarvis

19. Paul Jedrasiak

20. Alexandre Lapandry

21. Ludovic Radosavljevic

22. Pato Fernandez

23. Damian Penaud

Saracens

15. Alex Goode

14. Chris Ashton

13. Marcelo Bosch

12. Brad Barritt (c)

11. Chris Wyles

10. Owen Farrell

9. Richard Wigglesworth

1. Mako Vunipola

2. Jamie George

3. Vincent Koch

4. Maro Itoje

5. George Kruis

6. Michael Rhodes

7. Jackson Wray

8. Billy Vunipola

Replacements

16. Schalk Brits

17. Titi Lamositele

18. Petrus du Plessis

19. Jim Hamilton

20. Schalk Burger

21. Ben Spencer

22. Alex Lozowski

23. Duncan Taylor

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