5 players to watch in Champions League final

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm •  Published: May 23, 2014
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid meet in the first Champions League final, the first between teams from the same city and fifth between teams from the same country.

Both are looking to close their seasons with a double. Madrid tries to follow its Copa del Rey victory with a record 10th European Cup. Atletico can secure its first title in Europe's top competition just a week after winning its first Spanish league trophy in 18 years.

Here are five players who can make the difference Saturday at the Stadium of Light:

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IKER CASILLAS

The Real Madrid goalkeeper has overcome being dropped as the first-team goalkeeper in the Spanish league to make the most of his limited playing time. And the 33-year-old Casillas has exceeded expectations in a part-time role, leading Madrid not only into the final but to victory in the Copa del Rey, where he did not allow a goal until the 2-1 final win over Barcelona. Casillas' play in Europe and the domestic cup has cemented his starting place for Spain at the World Cup, and a third European Cup on his resume would certainly add to his stature as Spain's greatest keeper. Casillas has never lost to Atletico.

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THIBAUT COURTOIS

Atletico Madrid's goalkeeper won his second straight Zamora trophy after conceding the fewest league goals in helping his team to the Spanish league title. The Belgium goalie has flourished in the three seasons he has spent on loan from Chelsea at Atletico, helping the club win five trophies with catlike reflexes and a penchant for key saves. Saturday's final could be Courtois' last game for Atletico with Chelsea looking increasingly likely to call their keeper of the future back to Stamford Bridge to compete with Petr Cech for the starting job. "Courtois and (Manchester United's) David De Gea are the best and most promising young goalkeepers in the game," Casillas said.

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CRISTIANO RONALDO

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