Madrid rivals go head to head again for Champions League glory (Preview)

Milan, May 27 (IANS) Cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid go head to head for the second time in three seasons in the final of the Champions League football tournament at the San Siro Stadium on Saturday.

Atletico flew in here on Thursday, looking to overturn the memories of the heartbreak they suffered in Lisbon in 2014 when a 93rd minute header from Sergio Ramos cancelled out Diego Godin’s goal which had looked as if it would hand Atletico their first European Cup. Real eventually went on to win 4-1, pumping in three goals in extra time after the regulation time ended 1-1.

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 striker s 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 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 Casimiro carried out the holding role in midfield in front of defensive pairing 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.

–IANS

sam/vt

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