Atletico bid to outwit wealthy neighbours

Diego Simeone's team, unbeaten in the Champions League this season, square up against Real Madrid in the final.

    Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in this season's Champions League [GALLO/GETTY]
    Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in this season's Champions League [GALLO/GETTY]

    Atletico Madrid have a chance in Saturday's Champions League final not only to claim their debut European crown but to deny their loathed and vastly wealthier neighbours Real Madrid a record-extending 10th.

    Atletico have already outperformed this season in securing a remarkable La Liga triumph, shattering the domestic dominance of Real and Barcelona and becoming the first team other than the big two to win the Spanish title since Valencia in 2004.

    Champions League 2013-14 stats
       Real Madrid   Atletico Madrid 
    Avg goals scored 3.08 2.08
    Avg goals conceded  0.75 0.5
    Clean sheets 5 6
    Avg possession 51% 46%
    Biggest win 6-1 4-0
    Biggest loss 2-0 -
    Yellow cards 19 27
    Red cards 1 0

    They are also back competing with the continent's elite after a lengthy absence and the first showpiece between teams from the same city in the 59-year history of the European Cup is their second final after they lost out to Bayern Munich in 1974.

    The Real spending

    Real, the world's richest club by income who have splashed more than $822m on players over the past five years, are appearing in their 13th final, but the first since their last success in 2002. Their vast outlay is proof of Real president Florentino Perez's obsession with winning what is known in Spain as "la decima" (the 10th).

    After Real's La Liga campaign faltered in the final weeks of the campaign, failure in Lisbon would be a massive blow to the construction magnate's prestige.

    Atletico, known as "the mattress makers" after their red and white-striped shirts, and Real, who play in all-white and are nicknamed "the meringues", have met only once before in continental competition, in the European Cup semi-finals in 1958-59.

    The city neighbours have met four times this season. In La Liga, Atletico won 1-0 at Real's Bernabeu stadium and they drew 2-2 at the Calderon in the return, while in the two-legged King's Cup semi-finals Atletico were on the end of a 5-0 aggregate drubbing.

    Those encounters are unlikely to have much impact on the Champions League final, with Atletico, unbeaten in Europe this term and on a high after wrapping up the La Liga title on Saturday and Real under enormous pressure to avoid what would be a humiliating reverse.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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