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UEFA Champions League
May 24, 2014
• 2:45 PM
• Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz), Lisboa
Referee: B. Kuipers
• Attendance: 60976
Sergio Ramos 90'+
G. Bale 110'
Cristiano Ronaldo 120'
D. Godín 36'
Congratulations to Real Madrid, and we'll leave them to their celebrations, which are sure to get more and more debaucherous as the night continues. That's about my cue for an exit as well, so from me, Keeghann Sinanan, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for tuning in.
Casillas lifts the trophy! Madrid seal their 10th Champions League crown, putting the end to a 12 year obsession! La Decima is complete, and Madrid end the season with two trophies.
Now up come the winners, crowned by Uefa president Michel Platini, and they're lapping up every second of this! The trophy is about to be raised soon...
Up come Atletico to receive their runners-up medals,and they look like they want to get this over as quickly as possible. Heads are drooping but despite the stomach-punch stuff for them in this game, they have done themselves, their fans and indeed football proud this season. Rarely has there been an underdog story so absorbing.
However, Bale trumped them all. After winning the Copa Del Rey with a late goal against Barcelona, he puts Madrid's other great rivals to the sword with the go-ahead goal in extra time. I still don't believe that any player is worth 100 million euros, but my word, what a way to pay off that fee! Money well spent as far as Florentino Perez and Co. are concerned.
The hero changed so many times throughout the game. For so long, Godin's goal seemed set to etch his name in history, especially after his strike against Barcelona in the Liga decider. But then Ramos stepped up with a header quite literally at the death, to add to his double in the second leg of the semi final.
A 4-1 scoreline is perhaps harsh on Atletico, but Madrid won't care one bit. They've finally completed La Decima. The benches are cleared and everyone associated with Madrid is out on the pitch celebrating, accompanied by throngs of photographers.
The end of a final for the ages. You have to feel for Atletico, who were literally seconds away from lifting the trophy, but for the intervention of Ramos in the last minute of injury time. From then the writing was always on the wall for the Rojiblancos. Madrid were fitter and faster, and put them to the sword ruthlessly in extra time.
120' + 4'
Varane is booked for his role in the confrontation but Madrid don't care! The final whistle is blown! Real Madrid are champions of Europe for the 10th time!
120' + 3'
Yellow CardRaphaël Varane
120' + 3'
Simeone is absolutely furious at Varane there, and has to be dragged away by multiple players. He's been ordered off the pitch by the referee, in a terrible end to an incredible Atletico season. Varane motions to Simeone that he'll see him in the tunnel later...was that wise Raphael? I'd back the Atletico boss in that fight every day of the week.
120' + 2'
Both Ronaldo and Marcelo were booked during exuberant celebrations for their respective goals but never mind that! Simeone, simmering all game, has finally blown his top! He charges out onto the pitch for the second time, going straight for Varane after a foul!
120' + 1'
Yellow CardCristiano Ronaldo
Penalty GoalCristiano Ronaldo
NO MISTAKE! He smacks it to Courtois' left, who dives the wrong way! Madrid celebrate, and La Decima is only moments away now! 4-1 to Real Madrid!
Yellow CardDiego Godín
MADRID HAVE A PENALTY! Ronaldo earns the spot kick after he was tripped by Godin inside the area! He's booked, and it's falling apart for Atletico, as salt and alcohol are being thrown mercilessly into their gaping wounds. Only one man stepping up to take this as Courtois steadies himself...
Atletico have finally run out of gas, stopping right in the middle of the highway. Marcelo advances from a position deep on the left, and meets no resistance from the Rojiblancos. He strides right into the box and lashes a finish home, despite a touch from Courtois!
YOU BET! MADRID HAVE SURELY WON IT NOW!
Suddenly all kinds of gaps are appearing in the Atletico half. They don't have the energy to chase both an equaliser and defend the Madrid threat on the counter. An untimely slip from Di Maria prevents him from having a one-on-one with Courtois! Is a third in the offing?
WHAT IS WRONG WITH CASILLAS? He's made some boneheaded plays this game, not least the one that left him stranded for the opener. And he's nearly caught up the creek again, as he comes for and misses a long ball, leaving his goal gaping! Luckily for him, Tiago whacks the loose ball over the bar!
Bale scored the winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, and looks to have outdone himself here! Aaron Ramsey won the FA Cup for Arsenal in extra time, and the other star Welshman is close to doing the same for Madrid in the UCL! Have Madrid snatched victory from the jaws of defeat?
Di Maria has been a pest all night, and he forces what looks like the winner! Shimmying down the left, he shakes off his marker before angling to beat Courtois at his near post. The keeper deflects the ball high with his leg, but it goes right to Bale at the far post, who nods in with conviction!
BALE HAS PUT MADRID IN FRONT!
Atletico pump a free kick into the box, and that man Godin gets some contact on it...but it's too close to Casillas! He whacks the ball upfield, and for a second it looks to have isolated Bale against a struggling and hobbling Juanfran! The defender recovers in time to clear though!
It's all Madrid out on the pitch, with Atletico having all 11 men well in their defensive third for large spells. A long range attempt from Modric garners a deflection which takes the sting out of it and gives Courtois a favorable starting position to make the save low to his right.
Both managers will be thinking about penalties now, but with the full roster of substitutions already used, it's up to the tiring men on the pitch to do the business from 12 yards, should it come to that. Ronaldo, meanwhile has missed penalties in both the semi finals and finals of this competition.
And the last chapter begins.
105' + 2'
Simeone is eventually calmed down as both teams congregate in their individual huddles right out on the pitch. I think this interval benefits Atletico more than Madrid though, they're the team that needs a recharge far, far more. We'll be back underway in a second.
105' + 1'
There is still time for a late Madrid corner, which infuriates Simeone to no end. The ball comes in and Ronaldo gets his head to it, but it's easy pickings for Courtois. The referee blows the whistle for the break and look at this! Simeone charges onto the pitch like a rabid bull, going straight for the referee to let him know exactly what he thinks.
Juanfran takes one for the team, bringing down Ronaldo on the ensuing counter attack and conceding the foul. He's one of the many in red and white on a yellow card, but the referee decides against taking further action and simply lets Madrid restart the game from the set piece.
Gabi presses Carvajal well into conceding a corner, and Atletico get men forward. However, the delivery is about as useful as dry toast on the hottest day of summer. Sosa smashes it onto the first defender, Madrid regain the ball and Atletico have men out of position...
The free kick finds a way into the area, where Godin gets there first to divert it out for a corner. Ronaldo pleads frantically for a handball on the Uruguayan, but the referee is unmoved by his case. Replays suggest a tight call, it would have been harsh to call Godin for a penalty there! This is the Champions League final after all.
Marcelo has been an inspired substitution from Ancelotti, but he gets his wings clipped there by Gabi, who is promptly booked by the referee. It's a free kick in Ronaldo range, and the man himself steps up to take it. Atletico have four men in the wall to put off the Portuguese.
SCRAMBLE IN THE BOX! Marcelo weaves left and right, fooling Juanfran down the left and getting in position to whack a low ball across the face of goal. Miranda gets there ahead of Morata, and no less than three players desperately chase down the ball before Isco can latch onto the rebound!
Juanfran is moving gingerly after a tough challenge from Morata. He simply needs to soldier on here, as there are no subs left for Simeone, no cards left to play. You have to wonder, should Atletico be playing for penalties already? They've been defending since the start of the additional period.
There was space for one second as Di Maria advances down the left hand side, squaring to Morata at the top of the box. He's got Bale free on the right if he can react in time, but the attention of a pair of Atletico defenders makes his mind up for him, as he loses the ball.
Atletico have defied all the odds and predictions this season, but this will be the most herculean of their many labors. They were fatiguing noticeably well before the final whistle, and now have another half hour to slog through. The momentum looks to be with the white half of the Spanish capital.
Extra time is underway now!
90' + 6'
Well, the Europa League final went to extra time and we've followed suit in the big brother finale. We've seen some really dramatic finishes to finals in continental competitions in recent seasons - with Robben, Ivanovic and Drogba scoring goals that won trophies or saved their teams. Add Ramos to that list now!
90' + 5'
I mentioned Godin's potentially legendary week, but it looks like Ramos may just trump him here! The centre back scored twice against Bayern Munich in the semi finals, lest we forget, and has now gone one further with the most vital of equalizers. And indeed, it's extra time as the referee blows the whistle!
90' + 3'
90' + 3'
An absolutely THUMPING header from the defender, who brings Los Blancos back from the dead! The corner was met by Ramos, who got enough power and placement on the header to take it past Courtois! Looks like we're heading to extra time folks! Atletico must be devastated.
90' + 3'
RAMOS! RAMOS! RAMOS! HE HAS DONE IT!
90' + 3'
BIG HEADER from Alderweireld, who rises just ahead of Ramos to take a raking ball from Marcelo off his head! Had Ramos gotten onto the end of that, it would have been hard for Courtois to save that! Marcelo too has been dangerous from his deliveries out wide!
90' + 1'
STOPPAGE TIME NOW, and there will be FIVE minutes here to end the final. Can it be that two Godin goals in the space of a week wins Atletico the league and the Champions League? The Rojiblancos players are running their socks off to chase down every white shirt in sight.
Simeone is waving his arms like a crazy man down on the sidelines, to pump up the fans for the final stretch. Villa makes an excellent play, sprinting almost half the length of the pitch to win the ball back, before getting hacked on his way up the field. Another key respite for Atletico.
Koke gets shown a yellow card for tugging back Modric. It's now five bookings for Atletico, but Simeone will want to keep them coming if it keeps the score as it is. Time is fast ticking away here in Lisbon and the question is, are Madrid finally out of ideas?
JUANFRAN WITH A GAME SAVING PLAY! A moment of defensive genius from the fullback. Ronaldo flicked the ball from the far post back towards the opposite side, where Marcelo is charging to meet it. But in sneaks Juanfran, who shows no concern for his own welfare, flinging himself towards the ball and just getting there ahead of Marcelo, leaving him in a heap! No penalty, no problem for Atletico!
The game is delayed, perhaps strategically, as Gabi goes down with a knock. The physios attend to him as the break allows the Atletico players time to get a quick drink and a word in their ear from the touchline staff. A more authentic injury sees Filipe Luis depart for the Belgian Toby Alderweireld.
You would need a chainsaw to cut through the tension emanating around the Estadio da Luz at the moment. It's all hands to the pump for both teams, with traffic flowing squarely in the direction of Courtois' goal. Atletico are defending with their lives, and time is not on Madrid's side.
Benzema has been mostly a peripheral figure throughout the game, and in the last throw of the dice for Ancelotti, he is sacrificed for the young striker Morata. He's been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu, but a game-changing moment here and I bet that situation changes!
IT'S BALE! SOMEHOW IT'S NOT IN! Oh my, those are the moments that you dream about! Picture this - Bale getting the step on Godin down the right flank with daylight in behind. Godin simply cannot live with his pace. He scampers into the open field and into the box, but he loses his composure at the vital moment, poking his finish wide!
NOW IT'S RONALDO! Madrid are really launching it from the left flank, and another cross-field ball from Marcelo is touched on at the far post towards Ronaldo centrally. He attempts a quasi-overhead kick, and despite an awkward starting position, he still makes good contact on the ball. sending it narrowly over!
AGONIZINGLY WIDE! Madrid are starting to turn it on in attack, as Bale narrowly misses the target, taking advantage of some shooting space at the top of the box. Make no mistake, that was a good chance. Immediately after, Juanfran is cautioned by the referee for a foul on Di Maria.
Yellow CardDavid Villa
An early cross from the right hand side sees Casillas and Villa challenge for the ball. The Madrid keeper gets down low to smother the effort, and promptly gets clattered by the boots of Villa, who had slid in with hopes of getting on the end of that ball. Booking for the striker.
Marcelo hooks a long range cross-field ball into the path of Bale on the right flank. He brings it down and is suddenly in a good position to take on Godin inside the area, but the referee's whistle halts him in his tracks. Replays show that he used his arm to bring it down, silly boy.
A glimpse of a gap towards goal sees Isco drag a 20-yarder off target. It was an attractive setup, as Ronaldo fed Benzema, who held up the ball against his marker before laying it off to the substitute. Madrid need to unlock the defence far better than that though - they're not winning anything if that's the best that they can do.
Fascinating progression to the game this. That Ronaldo chance moments ago was something of an aberration, as Atletico have repelled Madrid at every turn. It's not been a classic final in an attacking sense, but the individual battles out on the pitch have been utterly absorbing.
Raul Garcia's race is run, as his number is held up on the sidelines. He's not had a whole lot to say in the attacking third, truth be told, but his effort doubling up on the flanks has been noted with a hearty greeting from Simeone. Interestingly, it's the winger Sosa that comes on, as Atletico eschew a defensive change in favour of keeping a similar attacking presence on the pitch.
RONALDOOOO! Madrid fashion a solid opening that had Atletico panicking for a second! The Portuguese leaps high into the air to meet a ball in from the left flank, but he gets a little too much on the header. Crucially, it takes it away from the boot of Benzema following up at the far post. Madrid should take that as some encouragement though.
It looks to be all hands on deck for Atletico now, and all men to the front lines for Madrid. Two attack-minded substitutions have signaled their intent to throw everything forward for an equaliser. Khedira's departure has robbed their midfield of a good deal of defensive structure, at least on paper.
Indeed, the double change does occur. Not a shock in the slightest to see Khedira sacrificed for Isco. The German has looked lethargic, rusty and not fully fit, and his departure for the former Malaga man will, in Ancelotti's mind, add more creativity and impetus centrally. Marcelo for Coentrao is more like for like, but is the Brazilian quite at 100 per cent?
Madrid are forced into more desperate defending, and get bodies in the way of another Atletico foray forward from a short set piece. The game's really kicked into life in the last few minutes! Meanwhile, down on the touchline, a double dose of Isco and Marcelo seems to be in the offing from Ancelotti...
Ronaldo misses the target with a header from the resulting corner, and Atletico are straight back down the pitch, hammering on the door at the other end. A narrow block from Carvajal on the left hand side prevents Atletico from escaping into a glorious position! Corner to come...
Ronaldo stands over the ball, as the referee's insistence on making sure there's no monkey business in the wall gives the set-piece an appropriate dose of tension. The Portuguese eventually strikes it, and it takes a deflection that forces Courtois to react to turn it out for a corner!
Miranda picks up Atletico's second yellow card of the day, and it looked premeditated. He would preach that his actions were for the greater good, as he grabbed onto Di Maria to prevent him from scampering into the box. It sets up an interesting position for Ronaldo...
Raul Garcia sends the pulses racing for a second with a Zidane-esque volley from the edge of the area, after Koke had dug out a cross from a seemingly hopeless position on the left flank. Immortality beckoned had he caught that one correctly, especially with the innovator himself seated on the Madrid bench. Too high, too bad though.
Gabi gets pulled up by the ref for fouling Modric inside the Atletico half. This gives Di Maria the opportunity to launch a free-kick into the danger area. Plenty of white shirts are lining up to meet it, but it's the considerable presence of Miranda who gets there first to head clear.
No changes to report from the half time break, as Costa's departure for Adrian stands as the only substitution so far. I've made a lot of noise about the Brazilian's injury woes, but remember, Ronaldo and Benzema were also struggling with thigh complaints in the buildup to this game. And after a blunted first half, I wonder about the effect that those knocks have had on Madrid's fortunes.
We're back in action folks! Atletico restart the game.
Madrid may look to Isco's creativity or Morata's clinical and physical touch if they really need to shake things up in the attacking third in the latter stages. How much would they pay for a Higuain to bring off the bench though? Atletico have a few tasty attacking options of their own in reserve, with the likes of Diego and Rodriguez offering varying threats.
The BBC attack hasn't really been at the races, while Madrid are missing Alonso's influence in the middle. Khedira has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar on a few occasions and looks rusty. Ancelotti has his work cut out for him at the break as his side chase La Decima.
The 36-goal Brazilian-turned-Spaniard has departed, but it is Madrid who look in more trouble. Bale fluffed his lines from Los Blancos' best - and only - chance of the first half, but other than that, like so many sides before then in Europe, they've found the defensive ranks of Atletico hard to breach.
It's the red half of the Spanish capital on top as we enter the break at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. Godin has come up trumps on the big occasion once again, using his head to send Atletico in the lead from a corner. They shook off that Costa injury in no time, didn't they!
45' + 2'
Villa gets the step on Khedira, who is fooled by his quick change in direction and brings him down. The referee obliges him with a yellow card, to put the finishing touches on a miserable first half for Los Blancos. It's half-time in the Champions League final.
45' + 1'
Yellow CardSami Khedira
We haven't seen a whole lot out on the pitch from Madrid, apart from that one excellent opportunity for Bale that he really should have buried. Will they live to regret that? The omens don't lean that way - Madrid have never lost against Atletico when Casillas has been in the starting lineup - winning their last 11 straight during that streak.
What a week for Diego Godin! He was the man who scored the all important equaliser against Barcelona in the Liga finale last weekend that won them the title. And now, somehow, he's one-upped himself with a goal in the final - the first ever Uruguayan to score on such an occasion.
NOT TOO FAR OFF! Gabi delivers another corner that the defence struggles to absorb. Adrian gets past his man and rises highest to meet the delivery, but he plants his header over the crossbar! Simeone's men are really looking to cash in from these set pieces.
All the momentum is with Los Colchoneros at the moment. A long, searching free kick from the Atletico half is nearly weighted perfectly onto the head of Villa inside the box, but Ramos is there just in time to clear for a corner. Atletico are licking their chops at this set piece...
That was so typical of this smash and grab Atletico team. We've seen it countless times this season - they will happily defend this lone goal with their lives. And in truth, they haven't often lost from such a position. I just looked at the goal again - Modric was also at fault, reacting late to the ball back in the box.
Make that eight goals from headers this campaign! What a vital, vital goal! The corner from Gabi is only cleared to the top of the box, where it's sent back into the heart of the area by Juanfran. Casillas comes for it but hesitates, and is caught in no man's land. Godin beats his man to the ball and flicks it into the back of the net!
ATLETICOOOOOOO! THEY HAVE A GOAL!
Atletico win a corner as Varane is forced to step in front of Adrian, who was set to escape towards the byeline. Diego Godin has scored seven goals from headers this season, while Miranda and Garcia are no slouches either. Bated breath here...
HUGE, HUGE CHANCE! How has Bale failed to profit? It all came about thanks to a terrible brainfart from Tiago, which allowed the Welshman to turn on the afterburners and streak his way past two players into the centre of the box. But with only Courtois to beat, he lashes his finish wide! He did all the hard work already, and he had that one on his left boot too...
Some action in the opposition half for Simeone's men, as Juanfran's low cross isn't cleared convincingly, and Adrian drives it right into a wall of players. It could have ricocheted anywhere, but thankfully for Madrid, it did so in the opposite direction from Casillas' goal.
Two fouls inside two minutes for Koke, who is fast drawing the ire of the Real Madrid contingent in the stands. Both times, the Atletico midfielder pulled something illegal on Carvajal, and the referee looks like he has taken a mental note of those incidents. Looks like he's on his final warning already.
Yellow CardRaúl García
Yellow CardSergio Ramos
The referee eventually pulls both sets of players apart, and books Ramos for his ringleading role in the ruckus. Second such scrap since the opening whistle. Bets off on both sides finishing with a full 11. Meanwhile, Ronaldo takes charge of the resulting free-kick, but pings the ball right into the grasp of Courtois.
More animosity out on the pitch as Di Maria scampers down into the opposition half, only to be cynically hacked to the turf by Garcia. He knew what he was doing every step of the way - taking one for the team there lest he offered Di Maria a virtually clear run at Courtois. He is booked, and Ramos leads a throng of Madrid players right into his face.
It's catching practice at the moment for Courtois, who springs into the air to pluck a Di Maria cross into the safety of his grasp. Atletico will surely want to have him back at the Vicente Calderon for another season, the question is, will parent club Chelsea oblige? The rumored transfer of Costa may help in that respect.
Gabi gives up a free kick on the left hand side of the Atletico half, after a delayed challenge on Di Maria. Modric takes charge of the attempt, but he can't place it anywhere near a teammate, and its an easy grab for Courtois. Madrid have to do better from those positions, at least make the defence think!
Ronaldo and Bale have swapped flanks in a bid to confuse the defensive matchups of opposition fullbacks Luis and Juanfran, who have both been stellar defensively in the opening exchanges. There has been not a whole lot to trouble either Casillas or Courtois so far in this game.
Like most games involving Atletico in Europe this season, it's a tightly contested event out on the pitch. Space in front of the 18-yard area is hard to come by, and Madrid are having no luck of it at the moment. This is exactly the type of approach that has seen los Rojiblancos navigate all their European games this season without defeat.
Gabi takes a challenge from Coentrao a little too personally, squaring up to the Portuguese full back and enticing him into a little back and forth. I looked at the replay, there was barely anything malicious in the challenge. The officials do well to step in and quell the fires quickly.
Splendid atmosphere inside the Estadio da Luz under the Lisbon sun. The Atletico fans are briefly whipped into a frenzy when Gabi's slingshot pass sets Adrian on the run ahead of Madrid's out-of-position fullbacks, but he's not quick enough to beat Casillas, who races off his line to punt it clear.
That's twice now that Di Maria has drifted to the flanks and elected to loft in an early cross, instead of attempting to get closer to the byeline. Both times, Atletico have lapped it up without much difficulty. Surely that can't be Ancelotti's plan of attack? Costa's injury has to have given them some sort of boost.
So Atletico's 36-goal man is taken off prematurely in the third big game this season. Los Colchoneros did not fare too badly in the other two matches where such a scenario occurred though. They closed out their quarter-final second leg against Barcelona to progress, and squeezed out a 1-1 draw against the same team on the final day of La Liga to win the trophy.
Oh dear. I spoke far too soon. Costa has pulled up here and is immediately summoned by the bench - his game is done. What a devastating blow for Atletico, but not entirely unexpected as he's been struggling to keep fit for a long while. Simeone swaps him out for Adrian Lopez.
Diego Costa looks to be moving without too much issue, as he chases down a weak clearance from an Atletico free kick. He's immediately swarmed by white shirts though, and cannot do a whole lot more than cut it back to Juanfran, who in turn fails to pick out a teammate.
Ronaldo is fouled on the charge forward by Miranda. It's already shaping up to be an interesting battle between the Portuguese-speaking pair. What Simeone will NOT want is for one of his back four to pick up a yellow card this early - that just hands the incentive to Madrid's BBC to run right at the booked party.
What we've seen so far is a start to the game with a lot of possession for Madrid. Which is about as predictable as the sunset - Ancelotti's version of Los Blancos may fancy themselves as a counter attacking outfit, but Simeone's men are on another level in that respect entirely. They absolutely thrive without the ball, and live for forcing and punishing mistakes.
Here we go then, in the first ever local derby on the biggest stage of them all!
Right, the players are in position, and everyone's ready to go. Take a deep breath...
The pre-match festivities are well underway. After an acrobatic display from a few performers, both sets of players line up to a live signing of the Champions League anthem. Not sure they would want to try that next year, it was strangely distant compared to the traditional goosebump-inducing experience of the theme blaring out from the speakers.
Atletico beat Real in the Copa del Rey final last season, lest we forget. This campaign, the sides have locked horns four times. The first encounter came back in September, where Costa's lone goal gave Atletico a Liga win. Madrid got some revenge with a 5-0 aggregate win in the Copa, before playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw in the return league fixture in March.
Though it is the fifth one country UCL final, tonight's game is the first between teams from the same city in the 59 year history of the competition. Prior to 2013, Real had not lost to their city rivals in 14 years.
Tonight, Atletico will wear shirts dedicated to the memory of former four-time manager Luis Aragones, who passed away in February of this year. He was on the pitch in the red and white for their only other European Cup final 40 years ago, and will be more familiar as the man who won Euro 2008 with Spain, helping to usher in the era of tiki-taka at the turn of the last decade.
I've said it before, but should Diego Simeone pull this off tonight, it surely ranks in the pantheon of coaching achievements. When he took over at Atletico, they were in mid table in La Liga, coming off a loss to second division Albacete in the Copa. Since then, he's blazed a trail through Europe, clinching top honours in the Europa League, Liga and Copa del Rey - on a miniscule budget no less. Win tonight, and he tops it all.
Atletico have beaten Madrid in four of their last five finals - with all four wins coming in the Copa del Rey. But with the greatest of respect to Spain's cup competition, this is a different kettle of fish entirely. This is the fifth one-country final in the competition's history and lest we forget, Madrid won the first such encounter 14 years ago, beating Valencia 3-0.
Don't sleep on the reshuffle in the spine of Madrid's teams either. Pepe has been a rock this season, while Alonso provides that unique blend of creativity and defensive coverage that is so rare these days. Khedira has plenty of experience in big games, but after missing most of the season, it's right back into the hottest of fires for him. Varane too is another who has struggled with injuries, and should Costa and Villa be fit and firing, he'll have to have a hell of an evening at the back.
The biggest question for me in terms of personnel is Diego Costa. He's been hauled off in two of Atletico's biggest games in the run in, succumbing to injury in both Barcelona games - the quarter-final second leg and the Liga decider. A long season on a thin squad has really started to take its toll. Is he fit enough to be decisive for his side?
Instead, it's Raul Garcia who will play as the most advanced midfielder - watch for him to overload into the attacking line on counter attacks. The rest of the Atletico team more or less picks itself, with Koke and Gabi in the middle, while Juanfran, Diego Godin, Miranda and Filipe Luis make up the defensive line in front of Thibaut Courtois - in possibly his final game as a Rojiblanco.
And in the red corner, the horse placenta seems to have done the trick. Diego Costa has been passed fit enough to start after travelling to Serbia to undergo the bizarre treatment from crazy person/genius healer Marijana Kovacevic. He will be supported by David Villa, though poor Arda Turan could not recover in time from an injury sustained in their Liga decider against Barcelona.
Sami Khedira, so recently returned from a massive injury layoff, starts in midfield due to Xabi Alonso's suspension. Luka Modric also mans the middle, while Angel Di Maria will tip the trident in the centre of the park. Up front, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both recover in time from thigh complaints to complete the attacking trio alongside Gareth Bale.
Let's start in the white corner, shall we? There is no miracle recovery for Pepe, who cannot shake off his calf issues in time to make anything more than the bench. Raphael Varane steps in, and with Marcelo still missing, Fabio Coentrao continues at left back, with Dani Carvajal on the opposite flank. Sergio Ramos completes the back four in front of Iker Casillas, summoned once again ahead of Diego Lopez for Europe.
SUBS: Aranzubia, Alderweireld, Mario Suárez, Cristian Rodríguez, Sosa, Diego, Adrián López.
ATLETICO MADRID (4-4-2): Courtois, Godín, Filipe Luís, Juanfran, Miranda, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Gabi, Villa, Costa.
SUBS: Diego López, Pepe, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Isco, Illarramendi, Morata.
REAL MADRID (4-3-3): Casillas; Varane, Ramos, Fábio Coentrão, Carvajal; Khedira, Di Maria, Modric; Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema.
I've got tons of pre-match cocktails to whet your appetite, but first, let's take a look at our teams for tonight's clash.
This promises to be an insane evening of football ahead of us. Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid. One side staring down La Decima, while the other aims to add European spoils to their Liga triumph to cap off one of the most incredible achievements in football history.
Estadio da Luz is the venue. El Derbi Madrileno is the game. The Champions League trophy is the stakes. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, delighted to welcome you to our blow by blow coverage of the final.
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