Atletico Madrid will look to complete an historic season with European glory on Saturday when they face city rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Lisbon.
It’s the first time in 40 years Atletico have reached Europe’s top club competition’s showpiece match and only their second in the club’s history, but they are still hunting their first trophy.
Despite winning a first La Liga title in 18 years on Sunday, Atletico remain slight underdogs. But coach Diego Simeone doesn’t see it that way.
He said: “I think (the final) is fifty fifty. They have better individual players. We have great motivation and they have a strong desire. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have it either, I think we are leveled in that sense. It is going to be a balanced match.”
Atletico’s 28-year-old Brazilian defender Filipe Luís believes his side have an uphill battle to win their first Champions league title.
Atletico have met Real on four occasions this season with a win and a draw in the league but they lost both legs of their King’s Cup semi-final tie.
Luis said: “We will just think on how to resolve the match the best way possible. It is going to be very difficult because we are going to have one of the best teams in the world in front of us. Without a doubt they have the best squad in the world. It is very complicated to defeat (Real) Madrid but even more in a Champions League final.”
While Atletico sweat over the recovery of their star striker Diego Costa who is struggling with a thigh injury – Cristiano Ronaldo is confident he will have recovered from a similar injury in time but remains wary of his team’s Saturday night opponents.
The Portuguese international said: “They are confident, of course, they won the Spanish league. But in my opinion the game will be 50/50. It’s going to be a fantastic game, a fantastic evening, so I hope Real Madrid can win this title, because it is very important for us.”
Two time European champion Iker Casillas echoed Ronald’s caution over their fellow La Liga rivals.
He said: “They now have had four years of successes, I think they have had some fantastic years, and they are proving they are among the best in Europe. Our maximum respect goes to a rival who we think will be very tough to play against.”
Whatever the result on the night history will be made as for the first time in the competition’s history two teams from the same city will battle it out for Europeran glory.