This year’s knockout stage has given us what we deserve from the Champions League; historic, edge-of-your-seat moments. Now we’re treated to a rematch of two of the last three finals. Real enter the match riding some positive momentum after Marcelo’s late winner against Valencia kept them in the La Liga driver’s seat. And while Gareth Bale is set to miss out, considering Isco’s form, it may be an upgrade. The true difference-makers, will be Ronaldo, who single-handedly pulled Real past Bayern, and Casemiro, who is seemingly always on the edge of a sending off. The latter’s steel will be critical in breaking down Atletico’s quick counters, assuming he’s able to continue to ride his luck in staying out of trouble. Atleti will welcome the return of winger Yannick Carrasco. Diego Simeone does, however, have a serious issue at right back, with each of his natural options missing through injury. The two La Liga meetings between these sides have been controlled by Real - it took Atletico 175 minutes to score against their rivals this season. However, a 1-1 result at the Bernabeu, like the one they earned three weeks ago, would be a positive result.
The record-holding 11 time winners will defend their current trophy without the usual summertime Galactico business. But, when your squad includes the likes of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema, finally finding consistency is a positive. We have yet to see Zinedine Zidane take a full season at the helm with all the pressure the toughest gig in management provides - how he responds to turbulent times will determine the length of his tenure. The expectations for this squad are the same as every season: win every trophy they compete for. With their aforementioned attacking prowess bolstered by a reliable defense, they could do just that.
Last season’s Champions League proved to be heartbreak again for Atletico as they were runners-up to rivals Real Madrid for the second time in three years. The momentum should continue for Atleti, however, as manager Diego Simeone has stayed put. Also committing themselves to the Vicente Calderon is star French forward Antoine Greizmann, who will be joined in attack with the formidable options of Fernando Torres, Kevin Gamiero, Saul, Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan, among others. Combine that with a stern defense and Atletico Madrid are no longer relative surprise finalists, but one of the favorites. We’ll be treated to a matchup against Bayern, but with PSV Eindhoven and Rostov rounding out the group, Atleti should make it out comfortably.
Averages over a goal a game for Real, having scored 261 in 237 appearances.
The 33 year-old defender has frustrated and annoyed opponents for over 215 matches with Real.
Was named player of the tournament at Euro 2016, scoring six goals and adding two assists in seven games.
The rock at the heart of Atleti's defense has played over 180 matches for Los Rojiblancos.