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Rivals Clash in Madrid Derby – Preview to UEFA Champions League Semifinal

Madrid Derby Photo credit to caciabum96 via Flickr


The Madrid Derby – Preview to UEFA Champions League Semifinal

A quick look at UEFA Champions League semifinal match between Real vs. Atlético

Match Facts:

  • Teams meeting for fifth time in the UEFA Champions League
  • Madrid have beaten Atletico in two of the past three finals
  • Teams drew 1-1 at the Bernabéu in the La Liga this past April

How did they get here?

Real Madrid: Real Madrid had to settle for second in their group and it was Borussia Dortmund who finished top of the table. Once the Round 16 started, Real Madrid showed why they are the champs of Europe. They overwhelmed an impressive Napoli side 6-2 on aggregate. Cristiano Ronaldo had been noticeably silent by his own high standards. Once Real met Bayern in the quarters, Ronaldo torched the Bundesliga top dogs for five goals in two games to push them onto the semifinals on 6-3 aggregate.

Atlético: Atlético took care of business as usual to advance to the semifinals. Coach Diego Simeone’s team, once more topped their Group and reached the knockout stage.  Los Colchoneros proved doubters wrong by dominating Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 aggregate. They did not falter to cinderella driven Leicester side and cruised to 3-1 aggregate.

Game Changers:

Cristiano Ronaldo: To survive and prosper against Atlético, Real will require Ronaldo to repeat the vintage scoring form he showcased in the previous round. He delivered, five goals, against Bayern Munich, to push Los Galacticos to the next round. For Real to continue their dominance over their cross-town rivals, they will need him to continue his scoring resurgence.

Antoine Griezmann: The Atlético Star has had an incredible year, on an almost weekly basis the Frenchman has found the back of the net and continues to lead his side with 16 goals in La Liga. Regarded to many as the world’s third-best player, the 26-year-old must be at his best form to prevent Real Madrid from a possible chance a repeat European Champions.

Madrid Derby Winner is:

Real Madrid, over the years they have been the one kryptonite of Atlético. Real have beaten Atlético in two have the past three finals, all seemingly when Atlético were dominating both matches. Real’s star power and champion experience will overcome and move on to Cardiff with chance be the first repeat champions since the 1988-1990 AC Milan.

Predicted line-ups:

Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modrić; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo. Out: Bale (calf), Pepe (ribs)

Atlético: Oblak; Hernández, Godín, Savić, Filipe Luís; Ñíguez, Koke, Gabi, Carrasco; Griezmann, Gameiro. Out: Juanfran (hamstring), Giménez (adductor), Fernández (knee) Doubtful: Vrsaljko (knee)