Friday, May 23, 2014

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid
Competition: Champions League − 2013/2014 − Final
Match date: 24 May 2014 - Kick Off Time: 19:45 GMT
Venue: Estádio da Luz (Lisboa, Portugal), Benfica

Real Madrid team return to the Champions League title game after taking a 12-year hiatus (2001-2002 winners) from the pinnacle match of European football. Los Blancos had a point to prove this time around after bowing out to underdogs Dortmund in last season’s Champions League semifinal. They enter this match having won 10 of their 12 Champions League matches this season, including earning revenge on Dortmund in the quarterfinal stage. Furthermore, they’ve won 7 of their last 8 with that lone loss coming in a 2nd leg tie that saw Los Blancos carry a 3 goal lead to Germany (Dortmund). Now, after having smashed the title holders Bayern 5-0 on aggregate, manager Carlo Ancelotti has a chance to restore Real Madrid back to their familiar place atop Europe. Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano returns to his mother country here with the match being played in the Portuguese capital, and the mesmerizing forward will be eager to add his second Champions League trophy (2007-2008 winner with Man Utd) to a cabinet full of personal accolades and club successes. The most expensive man in football has certainly earned his paycheck in this season’s Champions League, tallying 16 goals in 12 games, which easily leads the competition. However, key midfield installment Xabi Alonso will be forced out here due to an accumulation of yellow cards, and his experience could be missed with Illarramendi set to replace him. In 4 matches with their in-town rivals this season, Los Blancos have lost once (1-0, La Liga), drawn once (2-2, La Liga), and won twice (2-0 and 3-0, both legs of the Copa del Ray).
Atletico Madrid have surprised the masses this season with their excellent run. Having won the Spanish Primera Division last weekend with a 1-1 draw against Barcelona, they now have a chance to grab the improbable title double with a win in Saturday’s final. Manager Diego Simeone has played the role of 5-star general this season, guiding his troops through pressure and against complacency in a way that has only garnered respect from players and fans alike. In their first season in the Champions League since the 2008-2009 season, Los Rojiblancos have gone unbeaten in all 12 matches, including impressive knockouts of Italian giants AC Milan, fellow Spanish club Barcelona, and English money-machine Chelsea. The La Liga champions will receive a boon in the form of captain Gabi, who will return after missing the club’s semifinal victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (3-1). However, the much sought-after striker Diego Costa, who currently sits 3rd in the goalscoring chart for this season’s Champions League (8 goals in only 8 appearances), is highly doubtful to be fit for this match. While David Villa and Raul Garcia are worthy replacements up top, it is a major worry for the underdogs headed into the weekend. In their one victory over their rivals this season, Diego Costa netted the winning goal.

Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid Probable Line-Ups:
Real Madrid: Diego López, Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modrić, Illarramendi, Angel di María, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Atlético Madrid: Thibault Courtois, Juanfran, João Miranda, Diego Godín, Filipe Luís, Gabi, Koke, Adrián López, Diego, Diego Costa, David Villa.

You can watch the match here: Link 1 , Link 2 [Live Scores]

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