Follow Us:

UCL preview: Desperate Atletico Madrid host Real Madrid

Real are overwhelming favourites to make the final, but will Atletico throw a spanner in the works?

Prithviraj Dev | New Delhi |

Atletico Madrid is hoping for a miracle as it host arch-rivals Real Madrid in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night.

Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, the Rojiblancos are staring at a fourth consecutive defeat from Los Blancos in the continental competition. And at this point, it is nigh impossible to deny Zinedine Zidane a second successive Champions League final appearance. 

Atletico Madrid

Diego Simeone’s men will have to change their defensive style if they are to harbour any hope of progressing to Cardiff.

Getting an early goal will be crucial for Atletico, which could invite mistakes from the visitors but at the same time, they will have to be wary of overextending themselves.

Midfielders Saul Niguez and Koke had sub-par outings at the Bernabeu and a repeat performance cannot take place if the Rojiblancos are to make a fight of this. Their service to Antoine Griezmann will have to be pin-point as the French forward cannot do everything on his own.

Their injury crisis at right-back has shown signs of abating with Juanfran reportedly available for selection after spending a while on the sidelines with a hamstring complaint, a major boost for Simeone. 

What they are saying: “Playing at home for is a bonus and we will give everything we have to make our fans proud of us, says Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez (www.atleticomadrid.com)

Injury concerns: Augusto Fernandez (Knee), Sime Vrsaljko (Knee), Juanfran (Hamstring), Jose Gimenez (Adductor)

Suspension Alert: None

Real Madrid

It was all about Cristiano Ronaldo in the first-leg as the holders took a massive 3-0 lead which does look unsurpassable at the moment. The Portuguese sensation has upped his game as the business end of the season nears to once again become the frontrunner for the Ballon d’Or but perhaps more importantly, is set to lead Real towards their 12th Champions League title.

Real are a well-oiled unit, with every player fulfilling his role to perfection at the moment and beating Atletico away is not a feat beyond them right now. 

Zidane once again has a selection dilemma on his hand as Marco Asensio, James Rodriguez and Isco are all in fine fettle but who will play alongside Karim Benzema and Ronaldo?

In fact, after Alvaro Morata’s goalscoring exploits in the La Liga on the weekend, the Spaniard is a good choice to replace the ageing Benzema as well.

Real have injury problems of their own, with Dani Carvajal still unavailable after pulling his hamstring in the first leg, which means Raphael Varane will partner captain Sergio Ramos in defence and Nacho will deputise at right-back.

What they are saying: “Real Madrid have that special connection with Champions League matches. The fans transmit the importance to us and when you play a Champions League game, you get goose bumps, there's no better feeling in the world than that,” says Real Madrid winger Lucas Vazquez (www.realmadrid.com)

Injury concerns: Pepe (Ribs), Gareth Bale (Calf), Dani Carvajal (Hamstring)

Suspension Alert: None

Super Stat: Atletico are unbeaten in the home legs of all five of their European Cup semi-finals (Four wins and one draw)!