Real Madrid, Atletico play Champions League derby

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm •  Published: May 22, 2014
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — For Atletico Madrid, the only thing in the way of the greatest season in the club's 111-year history is crosstown archrival Real Madrid.

The Spanish rivals make up the first intracity Champions League final in history, with the match to be played in Lisbon.

Real Madrid is the competition's most successful club and bidding to end a 12-year wait for "La Decima" — its 10th European Cup title. It recently had a 14-year unbeaten run against Atletico in all competitions come to an end last season, when Atletico won the Copa del Rey at Real's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Here are five things to know about Saturday's match:

INJURY WORRIES: Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to return from injury to play Saturday. Diego Costa is unlikely.

Advantage, Real Madrid.

Ronaldo has been burdened by leg injuries over the past two months but said Tuesday he would be available to play in his first Champions League final for Madrid. Costa has also endured leg setbacks and, after hobbling off against Barcelona on Saturday, sought treatment from a specialist in Belgrade using horse placenta.

Ronaldo's return will bolster Madrid's already potent attack with Gareth Bale set to start. But striker Karim Benzema appears to be doubtful with a hamstring injury. Madrid center back Pepe is also a game-time decision.

ALONSO'S REPLACEMENT: Xabi Alonso's absence deals an important blow to Madrid's midfield.

The Spain international has been one of Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti's most important players this season, but a yellow card in the semifinal win over Bayern Munich has left him suspended.

Either Sami Khedira, Asier Illarramendi or Casamiro is likely to fill the void and take responsibility for opening up Madrid's attack and breaking up Atletico's buildups.

Illaramendi is the natural successor to Alonso, but he has had a nervy debut season at Madrid.

"It will be a very equal match and I imagine the midfield will be determinant in setting up play," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

VILLA EXPERIENCE: Not only will David Villa's goal-scoring prowess make up for Diego Costa's absence, but the Spain striker's experience should prove invaluable to an Atletico team short of Champions League experience.

Villa is the only regular in the squad who has played in a Champions League final before, scoring in Barcelona's 3-1 triumph over Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in 2011.

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