For the second time in three seasons, UEFA Champions League final is all Madrid affair, as cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid go head to head at the Milan’s San Siro Stadium on Saturday.
Atletico will try to forget the final in Lisbon in which a header from Sergio Ramos broke their heart. Atletico were seconds away from winning their first European Cup, then, Ramos powered a header home, and the rest, as the day, is history, as Real Madrid went on to overpower their crosstown rivals in extra time to complete that long-awaited “La Decima”.
Real Madrid fly to Milan later on Friday looking for their fifth consecutive final victory in order to lift their record-stretching 11th European Cup.
The game will once again be the immovable defence of Atletico against the irresistible force of Real Madrid’s attack.
Atletico look to make good use of their supremely organised and dedicated defence, while looking for the pace of the in-form strikers Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann to hurt Madrid on the counter attack, or to force a goal from set pieces, which Atletico exploit so well.
The news from the Atletico camp is that all players are fit to play the big game.
The only doubt in Diego Simeone’s side is whether he starts with Augusto Fernandez or Yannick Carrasco in midfield, though he is expected to keep the talented Carrasco on the sidelines as a second half impact substitute.
The Real Madrid side virtually picks itself with Cristiano Ronaldo, who has recovered from a minor injury scare he suffered on Tuesday, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema leading the attack while Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will supply them the ball. Casimiro will carry out the holding role in midfield in front of defensive pairing of Sergio Ramos and Pepe.
James Rodriguez has struggled with a muscle problem, while the hamstring injury which has forced Rafael Varene out of the European Championships also keeps him out on Saturday.
Real Madrid can expect to enjoy most of the ball posession.
Recent encounters between the two sides have been physical affairs and English referee Mark Clattenburg will have to decide early on when to start showing yellow cards.
Around 45,000 fans from both sides will travel to cheer on their respective sides, but back in Madrid the entire city will be glued to their TV screens.
With inputs from IANS