The climax of the ERCC this season sees holders Saracens defend their title against French side Clermont Auvergne, twice runners-up in the competition in recent years, looking to win it for the first time.
Clermont beat Leinster 27-22 in Lyon to book their ticket to Edinburgh. After a brilliant start in a game played at a frantic pace, they were15-0 up and withstood a comeback to win.
They have a huge forward pack and one of those players that stand out in European rugby is Camille Lopez at fly-half. His poise, calm and pragmatism was crucial in the semi final with two crucial drop goals. Although their back line ahs suffered a couple of key injuries it is lightning quick if that big pack secures them front foot ball which it often does
Saracens are on a run of 17 games unbeaten in this competition the joint longest in European rugby history. They are in many ways the pre-eminent side of the last few years in European rugby, with a squad assembled with a big budget that has recruited a deep squad with pre-eminent talent (Farrell, Itoje and Billy Vunipola especially are world class players ) and a lot of experience beyond that especially from many South African players
Saracens are known for an effective but somewhat prosaic style. They are very street-wise and tactically astute. In this year’s knock-out stages Saracens have revealed the full range of their game. In the home quarter, final Glasgow could not live with the speed, accuracy, and intelligence of their attacking game. In the Dublin semi-final, Munster found the defence of the champions impenetrable before Saracens upped the gears in the second half to win 26-10.
The battle between the two number 10s here is going to be a great watch. Owen Farrell tops the points scoring charts with 113 having landed 24 penalties, 18 conversions, and a try against Sale Sharks in round four. It was his break and scoring pass to Chris Ashton in the last minute of their pool clash at the Scarlets that saved Sarries' winning run. While Farrell is deadly when points are on offer, Lopez is the creative force behind the Clermont juggernaut. Like Farrell, Lopez has scored one try in this year's competition, but his seven try assists show he has become the most creative outside-half in Europe.
Saracens have to be clear favourites and that is confirmed in outright prices, where Saracens 1-2 and Clermont 7-4 are the best on offer. Saracens are 5 point handicap favourites.
This should be very close for a long way and the handicap line is keenly pitched. The market I like here is “Winning margin” where William Hill have a Saracens win by 1-12 points at 5-4.