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Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

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It’s not been an easy decade for Real Madrid. The most successful team in European football have had to endure many long years in the shadow of the imperious Barcelona, with the likes of Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, and Pep Guardiola conspiring to keep Los Blancos in the dark.

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The Catalan giants have won twice as many La Liga titles as Real in that period, and collected the Champions League three times. Madrid are now utterly desperate to reclaim the prize that rather defines them as an institution, and are just one Champions League title short of ‘La Décima’ (their tenth success), but have been stuck on nine since 2002.

Read moreLa Decima: Real Madrid and the hunt for a Tenth European Crown

Now, with the Barca showing signs that perhaps they are not the power they once were, Real’s triumphant return to European glory is still being challenged, this time by their most hated and bitter rivals, heralding from both same city and from almost incomparable irrelevance and obscurity.

Diego Costa Atletico Madrid Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

Atletico Madrid will scoff at anyone attempting to show sympathy for their cross-city rivals Real, as Los Colchoneros (the Mattresses) have existed irredeemably as subsidiaries in the Spanish capital for as long as the mind can remember. Forget the Champions League; Barcelona and Real’s hotly contested duopoly over La Liga for the past twenty years have seen Atleti slip into a state of hibernation, with only the Europa League to keep their slow pulse alive.

Not only will May 24th see two sides fight it out for the top prize in club football, but it is also being seen as an impending battle between two ends of the social spectrum in Madrid, with Atletico deemed to be more working-class, and certainly more down-trodden than Real, who are considered Spanish and European royalty.

The ‘Galactico’ model is about as far away from how Atletico operate as is conceivably possible, with Diego Simeone operating on a €120m budget, and with a wage bill less than that of Championship side QPR.

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Real, you would think, need that first win since 2002 to put themselves firmly back on the top of the pile, while if Atletico triumph in Lisbon, they will have produced magic Houdini would have been proud of; to break the shackles of two such oppressive overlords, and to have toppled them both on the path to ultimate glory would truly be a rebirth to write home about.

It is the first time in the 59-year history of the Champions League that two sides from the same city have both made it to the final, and despite not hosting the match, the city of Madrid will surely be seen from space for 90 minutes of tumultuous passion, emotion, and boundless desire.

Read more:

Real Madrid: Possible Lineup and Team News – Trio set to start Champions League Final?

Atletico Madrid: Possible Lineup and Team News – Diego Costa fit for Saturday’s showdown?

Check out the preview for the 2014 Champions League Final below…

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Path to Lisbon:

Real Madrid

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Group Stage

real group Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

Overcoming the Italian, Turkish and Danish champions in Group B was no small matter, but Carlo Ancelloti’s side past the test with flying colours., conceding only five times, and knocking 20 past their beleaguered opponents, with Cristiano Ronaldo on fine form.

Second Round

Schalke 04 1-6 Real Madrid

Real Madrid 3-1 Schalke 04

Real win 9-2 on aggregate

German side Schalke posed as many problems to a steamrollering Real as a timid vole does to an iron girder.

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Two goals for Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg put the tie to bed, with the Portuguese captain adding two more in the return match to make the tie even more of a massacre.

Quarter Final:

Real Madrid 3-0 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Real Madrid

Real win 3-2 on aggregate

The first sign of weakness from Carlo Ancelotti’s merciless attacking army came at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion home, with Marco Reus almost inspiring a stunning turnaround, having been three goals down from the first leg.

dortmund s goalkeeper Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

Struggling without star man Ronaldo, Real staggered over the finishing line in Germany, knowing that if they were to finally lift the trophy after over 10 years of falling short, they would have to significantly up their game…

Semi Final

Bayern Munich 0-1 Real Madrid

Real Madrid 4-0 Bayern Munich

Real win 5-0 on aggregate

Los Blancos’ routing of Pep Guardiola’s Bayern was one of the events of the season.

madrid Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

Having grabbed a goal at the Allainz Arena, Real put the Bundesliga champions to the sword in Spain, with Sergio Ramos and that man Cristiano Ronaldo humiliating the German giants, and ensuring Guardiola failed his first test against Real as Bayern boss. Stunning.

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Atletico Madrid

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Group Stage

atletico group Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

Comfortable progression for Diego Simeone’s side, conceding just three times, with a draw at Zenit the only points dropped.

Second round

AC Milan 0-1 Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid 4-1 AC Milan

Atletico win 5-1 on aggregate

Atleti swept past a struggling Milan outfit here, with Diego Costa grabbing the all-important away goal in the San Siro in the first leg.

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The preciousness of that goal forced Milan to attack in Spain, with Atletico managing to put four past the Serie A side, killing the tie dead.

Quarter Final

Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona

Atletico win 2-1 on aggregate

Beating Barcelona is no small matter, and Atleti’s triumph here justified their progression to the last four of the Champions League.

74146976 koke celebrate getty Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

Young Spanish star Koke grabbed the winner at the Vicente Calderón in the second leg, with the 22-year-old netting within the first five minutes to topple their La Liga rivals, and book a semi-final clash with the Premier League’s very own Chelsea.

Semi final

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Chelsea

Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid

Atletico win 3-1 on aggregate

After a dour first leg in Spain, where the ultra-defensive Chelsea managed to choke the life out of the game from start to finish, there were many that believed Jose Mourinho’s tactical nous would see the Blues through at Stamford Bridge; but they were mistaken.

13 Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

A bizarre night that saw former Atletico hero Fernando Torres score the opening goal for the Blues, and on-loan Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois keep his employers out on several occasions, Atleti broke down the Blue wall in style.

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Key men

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo

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A monster of a footballer. The current Ballon d’Or holder has broken the record for most goals scored in a single Champions League campaign with 16 so far, and represents the biggest threat to Atletico’s aspirations.

Utterly dominant on the ground and in the air, Ronaldo is a force of nature, able to turn a game in a second, be it from open play or with one of his devastating set-pieces. It will take something rather special to stop him in Lisbon, the capital city of his native Portugal.

Real Madrid – Gareth Bale

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Real’s not-so-secret weapon. The world’s most expensive player has rather existed in the shadow of Ronaldo this season, and quite understandably, considering the demi-god status currently held by the Portuguese attacker, but Bale is one of the best players in world football, with his goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final last month a prime example of his brilliance.

It was a goal that shook Spain to it’s core, and one that finally showed off Bale’s unique ability to win games single-highhandedly. The Real triumvirate of Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema is surely the most potent on the planet at present.

 Real Madrid – Sergio Ramos

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La Liga’s top scoring active defender optimises Real’s aggressive, never-say-die attitude. A rock at the back for Los Blancos, his experience at the highest level, no-nonsense defending, and threat from set-pieces makes him a formidable foe for Atletico.

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 Atletico Madrid – Diego Costa

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Atletico’s very own titan of the game. Diego Costa has 36 goals so far in all competitions, and is considered to be Europe’s best out-and-out striker at present. Reportedly a £40m target of Chelsea, who experienced his potency first hand during the semi-final, the 25-year-old will cause the Real defence no end of bother.

Atletico Madrid – Koke

koke 237 Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

The 22-year-old Spaniard has really come to the fore this season, establishing himself not only in Diego Simeone’s first XI, but also as one of the outstanding young talents in world football.

Blessed with a superb passing range, delicate touch, and wonderful spacial awareness with or without the ball; if he performs to his ability in Lisbon, Koke could jump to the top of shopping lists the world over.

Atletico Madrid – Thibaut Courtois 

Courtois Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: 2014 Champions League Final Preview

The outstanding breakthrough keeper of the last few years, Courtois has found himself in a unique set of circumstances this past month. Not only was he intrinsic to knocking his parent club Chelsea out of Europe’s premier competition, but he is also at the centre of a growing transfer saga, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atleti all looking to prise him away from the Blues.

With cat-like reflexes, an incredible reach, and confidence beyond his tender years, Courtois is destined to become the very best, and a Champions League final to remember would surely propel him further into stardom.

Champions League Final Poll:

Who will be the winners of the Champions League 2013/14
Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid

Poll Maker

 

Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Atletico Madrid

Despite Atletico’s sensational unbeaten run to the final, and their excellent league record over their cross-city rivals this season, I can’t see past a win for Real Madrid.

The grandest of occasions often brings the very best out of the greatest players, and I fully expect Cristiano Ronaldo to fire Real to victory over Atleti, who will certainly not go down without a fight, and may even draw first blood in Lisbon.

It will be a ferociously contested affair, with so many past meetings between the pair setting a brutal precedent, and Atletico have shown in the past that they are more than willing to take the fight to their opponents.

The battle between Diego Costa and Pepe will be fascinating, considering their history, and while I’m banking on the naturalised Spaniard netting for Atelti, Carlo Ancelotti has more than enough firepower to ensure that Lisbon, and indeed Madrid, is bathed in white by the end of the night.

What do you think? Who will triumph in Lisbon? Get voting, and get involved in the comments below…

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Comments (2)

  1. i hope atletico madrid the winners this year

  2. I am confident that atletico fire real madrid like barca. Any big club Can’ stop atletico . I believe that atletico win 2 1.