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UEFA Champions League finale preview: Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid

Saturday, 24 May 2014 - 7:20pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Webdesk
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Atletico Madrid face Real Madrid in an El Derbi Madrileño Champions League finale. It will be a historic finale as the winner will creating history. If Atletico Madrid win, it will be their first ever UEFA Champions League victory. If Real Madrid win the finale, it will be their record 10th Champions League trophy. Real Madrid are appearing in their 13th final, but the first since their last success in 2002, the last time Real Madrid won the Champions League.  Los Blancos defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 on that night. Since then, Real Madrid has never won a Champions League and they are now looking forward to win it after 12 years.

Both the Madrid teams have been fantastic in domestic competitions as well as in Europe. Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey this season, beating Barcelona 2-1 in the El Clásico finale. Atletico Madrid won their first La Liga title this season after 18 years. They faced Barcelona in the La Liga 'title decider' at the Camp Nou, where they drew the match 1-1 and went on to win the league as both the Spanish giants were overshadowed by Diego Simeone's men.

In the UEFA Champions League, both the teams progressed through the group stages as group leaders, with 16 points each. In the Round of 16, Real Madrid thrashed Schalke 9-2 on aggregate to progress to the Quarters. Atletico Madrid faced struggling AC Milan, who lost 5-1 on aggregate. In the Quarter final round, Madrid were up against Borussia Dortmund, the team which humiliated the Madrid side 4-1 in Germany and progressed to the finale. But this season, Real Madrid avenged over the German side, defeating them 3-2 on aggregate. In the Quarter final round, Atletico faced their league rivals, Barcelona. Everyone was expecting Barca to record an easy victory over Simeone's men over the two legs, but were proven wrong. Atletico Madrid won 2-1 on aggregate to progress to the Semi's.

In the Semi final round, Carlo Ancelotti's men faced Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich. In the 2011/12 Champions League, Bayern won against Real Madrid 3-1 on penalties, as Sergio Ramos' penalty was blasted into the stands. That memories of that night was still haunting Madrid as once again they faced Bayern in the Semi's. Real Madrid struggled against Bayern in the first leg, but managed to win the match 1-0. But the Madrid side completely destroyed Bayern Munich in the secong leg of that tie, as they won 4-0 at the Allianz Arena. Atletico Madrid were up against Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, who were aiming at their second Champions League glory in a gap of two seasons. The first leg of this tie ended in a boring 0-0 draw, as none of the players managed to break the deadlock. However, the second leg had a completely different story. Chelsea took the lead through Fernando Torres' deflected strike. But Filipe Luis equalized for the visiting team. Early in the second half, Atletico's top goal scorer Diego Costa gave them the lead from the penalty spot and later on, Arda Turan made the score 3-1, ending Mourinho's and Chelsea's Champions League aspirations. Apart from Atletico's goal scorers, their goal keeper, a Chelsea loanee, Thibaut Courtois, played an important role in Atletico's victory, making a couple of important saves in the match.

Real Madrid have been waiting for 12 for their La Decima (meaning The Tenth in Spanish) Champions League trophy. Real Madrid might have a slight advantage over city rivals Atletico as they have two stars doubtful for the finale. Atletico's top scorer Costa has been suffering with a hamstring problem for the last few weeks and also missed the title decider against Barca. The other key player, Arda Turan is similarly suffering from an hamstring problem. Though both the players trained with the club on May 22, before leaving for Lisbon, their fitness for the finale is still in doubt. Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo was also in a doubt for the finale, but on May 20, it was confirmed that he is fit for the finale.

If Real Madrid win, it will be manager Carlo Ancelotti's third Champions League glory, the previous two coming with AC Milan. The third Champions League trophy could see Ancelotti beat Mourinho, becoming the first man since Bob Paisley to win Champions League three times as a coach. Ancelotti has given credit to Ronaldo and Gareth Bale for their instrumental performances this season. This is what the Real Madrid head coach had to say:

"[It is the] small things. In the tunnel before the players come out; in the huddle just before a game. It will be a quiet word, a squeeze of the shoulder. And he and Bale and [Karim] Benzema work for each other. Very unselfish. I like Ronaldo a lot. Now if he’s professional and doesn’t score goals, I don’t know if I like him the same. But he scores in almost every game — 51 goals in 50 games I think — so I like him very much! Gareth has been a great signing for us. And I like him too. So humble. But I can also see why Alex Ferguson said Ronaldo was 'the best'."

Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be playing the finale in his home country, is hoping to win the Champions League for the second time, as he previously won with Manchester United in 2008. This is what Ronaldo said, according to Daily Mail:

"It’s going to be a very special game. Playing in my country, in Portugal. My first final with Real Madrid in the Champions League. I’m very happy, very excited. It will be a special final at Benfica’s ground. It’s a legendary stadium for everyone in Portugal and for me. It's in my country, and I’m very happy for that. Perhaps they won’t be supporting Real Madrid but that’s fine. I’m going to try and enjoy it to the fullest. To be the player who has scored the most goals in a Champions League campaign is special. That is why I celebrated like that. It was a great achievement. I have evolved a little every year. A footballer always needs to progress. There are always things to improve. Every year I try to set challenges for myself. I try to give my best. I know it gets harder and harder to improve. It gives me the motivation and pride to keep working. So I want to carry on. I want more."

With both the teams having an impressive performance in domestic and European competitions, the El Derbi Madrileño will certainly be the most entertaining match of the season.




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