The big stage sends demands big names and La Liga champions, Atletico Madrid would want to join that list when they take on the mighty Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA Champions League at Lisbon on Saturday evening.
Atletico Madrid bid to outwit Real Madrid in Champions League final
The big stage sends demands big names and La Liga champions, Atletico Madrid would want to join that list when they take on the mighty Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA Champions League at Lisbon on Saturday evening. Atletico have already outperformed this season in securing a remarkable La Liga triumph, shattering the domestic dominance of Real and Barcelona and becoming the first team other the two ‘El Clasico’ clubs to win the Spanish title since Valencia in 2004. It’s the first showpiece between teams from the same city in the tourney’s 59-year history of and is Atletico’s second final after they lost out to Bayern Munich in 1974.
On the other hand, Real Madrid, the world’s richest club by income who have splashed more than 600 million euros ($822 million) on players over the past five years, are appearing in their 13th final. After Real’s La Liga campaign faltered in the final weeks of the campaign, failure in Lisbon would be a massive blow to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and company.
The Madrid rivals have met four times this season. In La Liga, Atletico won 1-0 at Real’s Bernabeu stadium and they drew 2-2 at the Calderon in the return, while in the two-legged King’s Cup semi-finals Atletico were on the end of a 5-0 aggregate thrashing.
All eyes will be on one man and one man only – Portuguese born Cristiano Ronaldo. The top scorer in this year’s competition with a record 16 goals; overtaking the record of Lionel Messi’s 15 goals tally, is in a positive mindset after an injury scare that kept him out of the latter stages of the La Liga.
Meanwhile, Atletico are sweating on the fitness of their top scorer Diego Costa, who has eight Champions League goals this term. The Brazil-born forward, a Spain international, has been suffering with a series of muscle problems. Also on the injury list is their Turkey playmaker Arda Turan. Atletico might face a psychological blow if both these men stay out of the final.
Atletico have held one celebration in central Madrid this season, winning La Liga for the first time in 18 years, and will be hoping to return with the European Cup. Should they fall short, Real and their fans will be ready to claim the elusive ‘decima’ after more than a decade of disappointment.
Players to watch:
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Koke (Atletico Madrid)
Tight affair but going for a 3-2 win for Real Madrid