…It’s our trophy says Zidane
Atletico Madrid would be aiming to be crowned
European champions for the first time as they confront city rivals, Real Madrid today in this year’s Champions
League final in San Siro Stadium, Milan in Italy. Barcelona, the holders were knocked out of the
tournament by Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals, with a hugely impressive victory over Bayern Munich
in the semis setting up this fascinating final against arch rivals Real Madrid, who booked their spot after
overcoming Premier League side Manchester City in the last four.
Today’s epic encounter will be a replay of the 2014 final in Lisbon in which Real Madrid came out on top 4-1
after extra time in what was the first ever Champions League final to feature two teams from the same city.
Indeed, Real Madrid are going into today’s final with huge and intimidating credentials, with 61st
Champions League final and the 24th since the rebranding from the European Cup to the Champions League. their
cross-city rivals Atletico are only gunning for their first ever final win having finished as runners up in both
2014 and 1974.
The match, no doubt, will have all the trappings expected of an encounter of this magnitude and it promises
to be interesting and also tough considering the football animosity between the two ‘brothers’. The sides have
met 200 times in league and Copa del Rey games, and while Real have the better record (W102 D48 L50), they have not beaten Atlético in six Liga meetings, since the 2014 UEFA Champions League final.
And Forty -three years old Real Madrid Coach, Zidane acknowledges
the stuff with which Atletico are made of.
Said he: “Atlético are special opponents; they’ve beaten the two other best teams in Europe, so it will be a very difficult game. They will defend really well as they always do, but I don’t think you can say that Atlético
Madrid are a team that only defends; they play good football too, and can make it difficult for their opponents.
We know that, we’ll prepare for it and we’ll try to play our game so that we don’t have any regrets at the end.” Diego Simeone is still nursing the ‘injury’ of two years ago defeat and has promised not to let same scenario
“I anticipate them playing like they did against Manchester City,”
Simeone said. “Casemiro gives them defensive strength and in the Champions League they have played on the break in almost every game. They
have used that to get space; tactically, I think they’ve been very good.” The former midfielder described Real as “very strong, direct”, noting: “The more space they have the better it is for them. Atlético will try to deny
Champions League keen watchers, however, believe the two teams have equal chance of lifting the coveted trophy and going by their impressive runs this season coupled with good players, the pendulum could swing to either side.
To shoot down their opponent, Real Madrid will heavily depend on their playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo and their ever ready goalkeeper Navas.
Ronaldo has been a driving force behind Real’s resurgence, tallying 35 goals in 36 La Liga games, and an impressive 16 goals in 11 Champions League contests, including a threegoal performance in the second leg
of their matchup with Wolfburg that clinched a berth in the semifinal.
He is expected to be on the field despite leaving practice early in the week after aggravating a thigh injury that previously forced him to miss three games in April, including the first leg of Real Madrid’s semifinal
matchup with Manchester City, which ended in a goal-less draw.
In the same vein, Atletico Madrid have been riding a hot streak of their own that saw them win eight of their past 10 games, including a shocking upset of Barcelona in the quarterfinal.
The result handed the defending champs an early exit with a 3-2 aggregate loss. Atletico against all odds recorded another upset victory in the semifinals, splitting the two-game matchup with tournament favorites Bayern Munich and advancing on the strength of the away goals rule.
Despite finishing two points behind Real Madrid in La Liga’s standings, Atletico have enjoyed recent success against their local rivals, going undefeated in a pair of league matchups this season to improve to 2-3-1 in
their last six head-to-head meetings.
But it has been Real that has dominated in recent Champions League clashes with Atletico, surrendering
Source : SunOnline